Today’s World Hepatitis Day sets an ambitious goal: to eliminate viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis B and C, from the planet by 2030. Germany has also joined this international campaign. Scientists at the German Center for Infection Research support this goal with different research projects in which vaccines and drugs for different types of hepatitis are being developed.
Worldwide, one out of every twelve people suffers from chronic hepatitis B or C. In Germany alone, hundreds of thousands of people are affected by this disease which causes cirrhosis and liver cancer. Only very few people are aware of their infection and the disease is often diagnosed very late. Although a vaccine against hepatitis B exists, and hepatitis C is curable in most cases thanks to new drugs, 4,000 people die of viral hepatitis every day. More information and better access to vaccines and drugs are necessary, as are improved and more affordable drugs and vaccines.
A promising virus blocker for hepatitis B and D is currently undergoing clinical testing at the DZIF: the active agent Myrcludex B inhibits hepatitis B and D virus entry into liver cells. Up to now, the existing approved therapies for hepatitis B do not actually cure the disease and there is no specific drug available for hepatitis D infections which account for the most aggressive form of viral liver inflammation.
The DZIF scientists are also involved in projects for improving hepatitis C treatment. They have found ways of specifically targeting and eliminating hepatitis B virus hereditary information from liver cell nuclei. This also opens up new treatment possibilities. The DZIF collaborates closely with the German Liver Foundation, and uses their Hep Net Study House for conducting clinical trials on viral hepatitis. “Amongst other things, the Hep Net Study House is currently conducting highly internationally recognised trials on the treatment of chronic hepatitis D and acute hepatitis C with innovative drugs,” explains MHH Professor Michael Manns, DZIF coordinator of the research field "Hepatitis".
Preventing, curing and, as far as possible, completely eliminating hepatitis—continue to be the researchers’ goals. You can find more information on World Hepatitis Day 2016 here: worldhepatitisday.org