Sunday, August 30, 2015

Eureka Prize goes to hepatitis B cure

A team from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has earned the 2015 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Disease Research for their search for a hepatitis B cure.

The winners include: Dr. Cody Allison; Dr. Marc Pellegrini, lead clinician-scientist; Mr. Michael Stutz; Mr. James Cooney; Mr. Simon Preston; Mr. Jesse Toe; and Dr. Greg Ebert, the winner of the 2014 Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher Award.

“Our team is dedicated to tackling some of the biggest challenges in infectious disease,” Pellegrini said. “Chronic infectious diseases including HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis are an enormous burden to humanity, particularly in the developing world. Our work really takes a new approach in how we hope to treat – and potentially cure – these diseases.”

Read more.......

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Arbutus Biopharma (ABUS) Announces Initiation Of Patient Dosing In The TKM-PLK1 HCC Expansion Cohort

VANCOUVER, British Columbia and DOYLESTOWN, Pa., Aug. 25, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Arbutus Biopharma Corporation (NASDAQ:ABUS), an industry-leading therapeutic solutions company focused on developing a cure for chronic hepatitis B virus infection (HBV), today announced the initiation of dosing in the 20 subject expansion cohort of the TKM-PLK1 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Phase IIa clinical study. This study is designed to evaluate TKM-PLK1's safety and efficacy in treating HCC patients.

"This is an important milestone for the company as we continue the execution of our strategy to progress our HBV-related clinical candidates," said Dr. Mark J. Murray, Arbutus' President and CEO. "HCC is one of the most common cancers in the world, primarily caused by an underlying chronic HBV infection. The goal of this study is to further evaluate the anti-tumor efficacy of TKM-PLK1 in treating HCC patients."

Trial Design
The ongoing Phase IIa TKM-PLK1 HCC clinical study is currently underway in multiple sites in Canada, the United States and Asia. TKM-PLK1 is administered weekly with each four-week cycle consisting of three once-weekly doses followed by a rest week, and the efficacy will be assessed in approximately 20 subjects. The HCC efficacy endpoint of the study is tumor response rate.

About TKM-PLK1
TKM-PLK1 targets polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1), a protein involved in tumor cell proliferation and a validated oncology target. Inhibition of PLK1 expression prevents the tumor cell from completing cell division, resulting in cell cycle arrest and death of the cancer cell. We are currently evaluating TKM-PLK1 in clinical trials with patients who have gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (GI-NET), adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

About Arbutus
Arbutus Biopharma Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering, developing and commercializing a cure for patients suffering from chronic hepatitis B infection (HBV). Our strategy is to target the three pillars necessary to develop a curative regimen for HBV: suppressing HBV replication within liver cells, stimulating and reactivating the body's immune system so that it can mount an effective defense against the virus and, eliminating the reservoir of viral genomic material known as covalently closed circular DNA, or cccDNA that is the source of HBV persistence. Our portfolio of assets includes a broad pipeline of drug candidates for use in combination to develop a cure for HBV. To support continuous discovery of potential novel drug candidates and technologies, Arbutus has a research collaboration agreement with the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute that provides exclusive rights to in-license any intellectual property generated through the relationship. The Baruch S. Blumberg Institute was established in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation.

 Arbutus is headquartered in Vancouver, BC, Canada with offices in Doylestown, PA, USA. For more information, visit

Read complete press release here

Thursday, August 20, 2015

HBV found to be prevalent in US

Hepatitis B virus infection was found to be prevalent in U.S. households, according to a new analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, published in Hepatology.

Henry Roberts, PhD, division of viral hepatitis, CDC, and colleagues analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from three time periods; 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2006 and 2007 to 2012 to address the current prevalence and burden of HBV in the U.S. Between 2011 and 2012, estimates of HBV prevalence among non-Hispanic Asians were oversampled.

“In the United States, the National Notifiable Disease System (NNDSS), … is the main way of ‘counting [HBV] cases,’ but it is a passive system,” the researchers wrote. “Not all states and localities report persons with chronic HBV infections and, of those who do, their ability to identify, verify, and report such cases is widely variable. … [The] CDC has relied on analysis of serum from about 5,000 U.S. residents each year from the National Health and Examination Survey, a survey representative of the U.S. non-institutionalized household population, to estimate the prevalence of HBV infection.”

“Despite increasing immune protection in young persons vaccinated in infancy, an analysis of chronic hepatitis B prevalence in racial and ethnic populations indicates that during 2011 and 2012, there were 847,000 HBV infections in the non-institutionalized U.S. population,” the researchers concluded. – by Melinda Stevens

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Statin use decreases HCC risk in HBV patients

In a retrospective cohort study, statin use was found to be associated with a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with hepatitis B virus infection, according to study data.

“We investigated the effect of statin in the primary prevention of HCC in a hospital-based population of HBV patients, by correcting for any potential confounders and biases,” the researchers wrote. “We also examined the effect of statin among other high-risk subgroups to evaluate the potential clinical use and impact of statin.”

Researchers extracted and analyzed data of 73,499 patients with HBV from the Hospital Authority registry database, which contained data of patients from 43 hospitals and 120 clinics in Hong Kong territory, between January 2000 and December 2012. This data was retrieved after researchers searched the database looking for specific ICD-9 codes and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positivity. Of these patients, 53,513 were included in the final analysis. Researchers found that 1,176 of these patients were statin users and 52,337 patients were not. 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Obit: Sheree Martin

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Sheree Martin, who
served as our Hep B “list mom” from November 1998 to 2011, and who also
maintained the Hep B research list and archives until 2011.

Sheree, who lived with chronic hepatitis B for many years, was our mother
and guide in many ways. She provided a warm, comforting voice to all who
came to this list with their stories of isolation and fear and their
treatment questions. She was the one who constantly reviewed medical
journals to bring us the latest accurate information about hepatitis B.

She provided all of us with a place to cry, vent, complain and inform,
all the while conveying the reassuring message that no matter how hard
things got, she was there and she cared about you.

That message, that solid presence, was sorely needed in the early days of
the Hepatitis B Information and Support List. When it was created in 1998,
there was nowhere to go to discuss how to tell family members or loved
ones about our infection, how to tell a child she was infected, or where
to go for competent medical care when hepatitis B treatment was sorely
lacking and available drug treatments could be counted on two fingers.

Because we were so few in number, we could find no support group in our
hometowns to attend. So we journeyed through cyberspace to find this safe
sanctuary to share our hopes, fears and questions.

Shortly after the list was created in 1998, Sheree introduced herself and
within months she became co-list owner with list “Dad” Steven Bingham.
Sheree, who was 59 when she died, shared that she had worked as a nurse
and lived in Ohio, near the West Virginia border. Those lucky enough to
attend any of the early patient conferences organized by the Hepatitis B
Foundation met a warm, friendly woman whose gentle twang and no-nonsense
demeanor lived up to her email list persona.

“One thing that impressed me about Sheree was what a good writer she
was,” recalled Steve Bingham. “She was also the peacemaker of the List
and would often referee between John Kirk (the first list co-owner) and
me. I remember her advice for me was to count to 10 before I responded
to an errant list member or, better yet, sleep on it for one night before

In one post to list members who were squabbling over a topic, Sheree
wrote, “There have always been only two rules on this list: Be nice to
each other and no promotion of brand name products … now some of you are
becoming dangerously close to being ‘not very nice’ to others. We don't
play that way here, and have no need or desire to argue with one another.
I, for one, have much more important things to do, such as enjoy life to
the best of my ability, and to learn through having an open mind. :-)”

Sheree brought great writing and in-depth research to the list. She would
peruse the available medical journal reports about hepatitis B studies
and post them to the research list, which stopped when Sheree retired in
2011. When a member asked a question about supplements or screening,
Sheree went to work researching the topic so she could provide a factual,
science-based answer, which were often few and far between in the early
days of hepatitis B in America.

She was our historian, our consultant, and our gentle disciplinarian. She
was a reassuring presence as an increasingly international membership
talked about lack of treatment options, cruel discrimination and
relationship stresses brought about by this infection.

Sheree was a woman who loved her children and grandchildren fiercely, and
we on the list were lucky to be included in her family.

Contributions, in honor of Sheree’s memory, can be made to the Hepatitis
B Foundation, 3805 Old Easton Road, Doylestown, PA 18902 USA

For those who are interested, below is a history of the Hepatitis B List

  • May 12, 1998--Birth of Hepatitis B Information and Support List
  • First organizer--David Crabb (deceased)
  • First list co-owners--John Kirk and Steve Bingham
  • First message--John Kirk
  • First subscriber--Matti Kirk
  • Sheree Martin introduces herself to List--July 11, 1998,
  • Sheree becomes listowner November, 1998
  • HBV Adoption (Parents') List branches off--May 19, 1999
  • Dr. Sharat Misra joins--June, 1999
  • Research List and Archives go on-line--June 21, 1999
  • John Kirk resigns--September, 1999
  • Sheree Martin, Steve Bingham, maintain PKIDS' (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) Research website and archives for HBV, HCV, and HIV information-- June 1, 2000--2004
  • Steve Bingham retires--June 12, 2007
  • Michelle H. and Ed P. become listowners June 13, 2007
  • Sheree retires from maintaining the research website in 2011

Source: Michelle in KY...  posted to The Hepatitis B Information and Support List

Migration Contributes to Flat HBV Infection Prevalence Rate in U.S.

The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection has remained constant since 1999, according to a study published online Aug. 6 in Hepatology

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has remained constant since 1999, according to a study published online Aug. 6 in Hepatology. 

Henry Roberts, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues sought to determine the prevalence of HBV infection among non-institutionalized individuals aged 6 years and older. They examined the prevalence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), hepatitis B surface antigen, and antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen over three periods: 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2009, and 2007 to 2012.

"Despite increasing immune protection in young persons vaccinated in infancy, an analysis of chronic hepatitis B prevalence in racial and ethnic populations indicates that during 2011 to 2012 there were 847,000 HBV infections (which included ~400,000 non-Hispanic Asians) in the non-institutionalized U.S. population," the authors write.


Cuban hepatitis B medication undergoing clinical trials

A Cuban medication to treat chronic hepatitis B, HeberNasvac, created by scientists at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), is currently undergoing clinical trials in collaboration with the French company Abivax

A Cuban medication to treat chronic hepatitis B, HeberNasvac, created by scientists at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center (CIGB), is currently undergoing clinical trials in collaboration with the French company Abivax.

The product has been undergoing safety and efficacy tests for several years, stated a CIGB specialist.

According to Iris Lugo Carro, the clinical trials being carried out by Cuban scientists and Abivax - involving 230 patients from eight Asian countries, and the participation of 50 clinical centers - are being realized under regulation ABX 203.

To date, the study has been approved by the regulatory authorities of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand.