Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Earlier treatment for young patients with chronic hepatitis B more effective in clearing virus

Date:
September 6, 2012
Source:
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
Summary:
Scientists have discovered for the first time that children and young patients with chronic hepatitis B Virus infection (HBV carriers) do have a protective immune response, contrary to current belief, and hence can be more suitable treatment candidates than previously considered.

Scientists from A*STAR's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), together with clinical collaborators from London, discovered for the first time that children and young patients with chronic Hepatitis B Virus infection (HBV carriers) do have a protective immune response, contrary to current belief, and hence can be more suitable treatment candidates than previously considered.

This discovery by the team of scientists led by Professor Antonio Bertoletti, programme director and research director of the infection and immunity programme at SICS, could lead to a paradigm shift in the current treatment of patients with chronic HBV. The findings were published Sept. 1 in Gastroenterology.

Current guidelines from international liver associations recommend delaying therapy until HBV carriers show clear signs of active liver disease, which generally appear after the age of 30. This is based on two assumptions. One, young patients are unable to react to treatment because they are immune-tolerant to the virus. This means that there is no protective immune response in their body to help them get rid of the virus, and therefore, they will not run the risk of liver damage or inflammation. Two, HBV infection is largely harmless in HBV carriers until active liver disease is apparent.

However, Professor Bertoletti and his team showed that young patients are not immune tolerant as they posses HBV-specific T cells with the ability to produce distinct antiviral cytokines that help the body fight against HBV. They also showed that the longer a patient is left untreated, the less effective their immune system becomes against HBV and the less able the patient will be able to clear the virus from their body even when they receive treatment.

The scientists demonstrated that the presence of HBV in the body over a long period of time is harmful to the patient due to repeated activation of T-cells which induces a progressive state of T-cell exhaustion, a state of immune system dysfunction that prevents optimal control of the infection and clearance of the virus from the body. Thus, young patients produce an immune response against HBV which is less compromised than that in older patients.

Professor Bertoletti said, "Young patients infected with HBV are most at risk of developing chronic HBV but current guidelines mean that they are also the least likely to be treated. However, our findings suggest that it might be better to start treatment early as young people with their stronger immune system, respond better to treatment and are more able to clear the virus."

Prof Judith Swain, Executive Director of SICS, said, "These findings may change the way treatment is applied to patients with HBV in hospitals in Singapore and throughout the world. This is a fine example of how clinicians, physician scientists, and scientists work together to improve healthcare for the public."

Background on HBV

HBV infection affects 400 million people worldwide, 75% of whom reside in Asia. In Singapore, one in every 35 adult is a Hepatitis B carrier. Hepatitis B is the most common infection of the liver that is spread by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Not all HBV carriers display symptoms but lifelong infection carries the risk of serious health complications including cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver failure.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Patrick T.F. Kennedy, Elena Sandalova, Juandy Jo, Upkar Gill, Ines Ushiro–Lumb, Anthony T. Tan, Sandhia Naik, Graham R. Foster, Antonio Bertoletti. Preserved T-Cell Function in Children and Young Adults With Immune-Tolerant Chronic Hepatitis B. Gastroenterology, 2012; 143 (3): 637 DOI: 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.06.009

Cite This Page:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Earlier treatment for young patients with chronic hepatitis B more effective in clearing virus." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906112257.htm>.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. (2012, September 6). Earlier treatment for young patients with chronic hepatitis B more effective in clearing virus. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906112257.htm
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. "Earlier treatment for young patients with chronic hepatitis B more effective in clearing virus." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906112257.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins