If you work on the front lines of medical care treating patients with hepatitis, you may not have time to review all the hepatitis research that enters the medical literature every month. Here’s a quick look at some notable news items and journal articles published over the past month, covering a variety of the major hepatitis viruses.

In the United States, hepatitis C virus (HCV)-associated mortality is increasing . From 2003-2013, the number of deaths associated with HCV has now surpassed 60 other nationally notifiable infectious conditions combined.

Chronic hepatitis B infection increased mortality and complexity among a cohort of HIV-coinfected patients in South Africa , according to a study in HIV Medicine. Researchers found that mortality was increased for chronic hepatitis B patients with hepatitis B virus DNA levels greater than 10,000 copies/mL, compared with non-coinfected patients.

A study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases found that Interferon Lambda (IFNL) genotypes were individually linked to higher rates of fibrosis in HIV–hepatitis C co-infection . Investigators said IFNL genotypes may be useful to target hepatitis C virus treatments to those who are at higher risk of liver disease.

A phase I study of a new NS3/4A protease inhibitor for treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1-4 infection yielded positive tolerability, efficacy, and pharmacokinetic results, indicating further evaluation is warranted . The drug, GS-9857, produced by Gilead Sciences, achieved mean and median maximum reductions in HCV RNA of greater than or equal to 3 log10 IU/mL following administration of a 100-mg dose in patients with HCV genotype 1a, 1b, 2, 3, or 4 infection.

High baseline bilirubin and low albumin predict liver decompensation and serious adverse events in hepatitis C-infected patients treated with sofosbuvir-containing regimens , according to a study in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis. Among 499 previously stable patients in the cohort, the incidence of decompensation/events was 4.5%, and the mortality rate was 0.6%.

A meta-analysis of national-level hepatitis C virus prevalence in the Arabian Gulf region found that it is comparable to global levels, although higher HCV prevalence is found in specific expatriate populations reflecting the prevalence in their countries of origin.

A resistance analysis of the drug GS-9190, a NS5B non-nucleoside analogue for the treatment of hepatitis C virus infection, found that the Y448H mutation was rapidly selected in the majority of patients receiving multiple doses of GS-9190 as monotherapy, despite undetectable levels in pretreatment samples . Researchers concluded that Y448H confers reduced susceptibility to GS-9190 and other non-nucleoside inhibitors and persisted in most patients for months post-treatment.

A study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases found that hepatitis delta virus (HDV) patients in the Amazon region can be treated with a combination of Pegylated Interferon Alpha and Entecavir for 48 weeks , with good chances of negative HDV RNA at week 24. The results suggest that HDV-3 in the native population may be an “easy to treat” variant compared to HDV-1.

Development of acute hepatitis B virus disease in successfully vaccinated individuals is a rare event, affirmed a study of the Italian Surveillance System for Acute Viral Hepatitis (SEIEVA) from 1993 to 2014 . Only 3.2% of acute hepatitis B cases had been vaccinated. Investigators said further efforts are needed to enhance the vaccine coverage rate in people at increased risk of infection, as hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Lab-made hepatocyte transplantation has therapeutic potential as a bridge or even alternative to whole organ liver transplantation , but researchers say deficiencies and uncertainties must be addressed in future studies aimed at developing liver cell therapies with such hepatocytes.

A major concern in potential liver transplant candidates is of unintended harm by achieving sustained viral response rates to direct-acting antiviral treatment, but without improvement in hepatic function to an extent where the patients might function well. A review essay in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis says there is a growing sentiment in some transplant quarters that those with decompensated liver disease awaiting liver transplant be treated for HCV after liver transplant instead of pre-transplant . The authors say it is essential that to develop robust predictors of improvement in liver function so patients can be carefully selected for therapy in the context of liver transplantation.

Treating mild-stage hepatitis C infection in people who inject drugs had virtually no impact on HCV-related end-stage liver disease/hepatocellular carcinoma (ESLD/HCC) within 15 years , a recent study found, but the long timescale of liver disease means relatively few people who inject drugs reach cirrhosis before cessation of injecting. Investigators said strategies focusing on treating advanced disease have the potential for dramatic reductions in severe morbidity, but virtually no preventative impact.

rpizzi@frontlinemedcom.com

On Twitter @richpizzi

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