Health: International Cooperation and the Campaign Against Hepatitis B

The Story:

When scientists from countries around the world work together, wonderful things can happen. This is clear in the case of an ongoing campaign against hepatitis b, a virus and the related liver disease that currently kills more than 800 thousand people worldwide. A push for an outright cure got underway around 2012 when scientists in China discovered the receptor through which the virus (HBV) enters human cells.


Hepatitis B is a virus that attacks the human liver, and one often associated with sexual intercourse or intravenous drug use. There are other routes of infection: blood transfusions, contact between patients and the healthcare professionals tending to them, or inadequately sterilized tattoo or acupuncture needles are all risk factors.

Assembly Biosciences, a U.S. company (California), recently tested a candidate cure called vebicorvir. The drug initially helped patients achieve dramatic declines in the genetic markers of infection. Unfortunately, when the trial patients stopped taking the therapy, level of viral DNA shot back up. So this is still short of outright cure.

In Pill Form:

In 2016, the Interational Coalition to Eliminate HBV (ICE-HVB) was born. This was under the leadership of Fabien Zoulim, a hepatologist and molecular biologist at the University of Lyon on France. There is a great deal of confidence that, whether by pushing means of a new generation of drugs along the lines of vebicorvir, or by another of the approaches now extant, a final victory of our species over the old scourge is near at hand.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.