Interferon alpha (IFNa) based therapies are effective in suppressing disease progression in hepatitis D virus (HDV), according to new research presented at the 2016 International Liver Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

Hepatitis D infections are severe forms of viral hepatitis that occur in patients already infected with hepatitis B and cause serious disease progression and worsened outcomes, and currently, the only effective treatment against hepatitis D is pegylated interferon, according to guidelines from the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

“There has been significant debate over whether there are long-term benefits to patients with hepatitis D receiving antiviral treatment,” said lead author Anika Wranke, a fellow at the Hannover Medical School in Germany, in a prepared statement on the study. “Our study demonstrates that the long-term outcomes for patients with severe hepatitis D, who have limited treatment options, could be improved with a widely available medication.”


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Researchers followed 136 individuals with chronic hepatitis D for at least 6 months, and conducted a follow-up for a median of 5 years. They measured clinical endpoints including ascites, encephalitis, esophageal bleeding, liver cancer, and liver transplant or death, which were present in 40% of patients at baseline.

Among the 52 patients who were treated with IFNa-based therapy, 18 achieved suppression of hepatitis D and had favorable outcomes compared with the patients who remained untreated, or who were treated with nucleoside analogues, which are commonly used to treat hepatitis B.

The researchers noted that clinical endpoints were less frequent among patients who received IFNa-based therapies compared with those who were treated with nucleoside analogues or who received no treatment.

Reference

1. Wranke A. Abstract PS053. Does antiviral treatment affect the clinical long-term outcome of Hepatitis D? Presented at the International Liver Congress 2016; April 13-17, 2016; Barcelona, Spain.