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Recombinant Drugs and Vaccines in Hepatology

More than 350 million people worldwide are inflicted by Hepatitis B Virus and about 170 million by Hepatitis C. Each year, about 35,000 Americans contract hepatitis C, which is a more frequent cause of chronic liver disease than hepatitis B in the US. Almost 4 million Americans have antibodies against HCV indicating infection or prior exposure, about 1 million people against HBV.

In many Asian countries, 10% (5-20%) of the population are HBV carriers and HBV is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV. More than 2/3 of HBV cases have no symptoms - or unrecognized symptoms - so most people who become chronically infected never know it.

Recombinant DNA technology has produced drugs and products for the treatment of liver diseases. The most important of these are Interferons, for the treatment of viral hepatitis, and vaccines to prevent hepatitis B.

Interferons

Interferons are a group of related proteins whose effects include antiviral activity, growth regulation and a wide variety of immunomodulatory activities. Recombinant interferon alpha-2b is effective in treating chronic hepatitis B, C, and D and was the first recombinant drug approved by the US FDA for treatment of hepatitis and has been widely used. Other interferons (recombinant alpha interferons, a fully synthetic type 1 interferon, mixtures containing several type 1 interferons and Interferon beta) are also available but not as widely used. Antiviral drugs such as ribavirin can be combined with interferons and the combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin has now become the therapeutic standard to treat hepatitis C.

Vaccines

Human HBV vaccines have been produced by recombinant DNA technology. Vaccines composed of hepatitis B surface antigen particles have repeatedly been demonstrated to be effective. Almost all healthy individuals younger than age 40 develop protective serum titers of anti-hepatitis B surface antigen antibodies after a series of three injections of commercially available preparations. Recombinant vaccines that protect against other hepatitis viruses (e.g. hepatitis E) may soon be developed.

Contact us regarding "Recombinant Drugs and Vaccines in Hepatology"
or call Tilo Stolzke at +49 451 400 83 01 directly.

Recombinant Drugs and Vaccines in Hepatology