Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Australia: Ancient hepatitis B strain only found in Northern Territory gives new hope in preventing liver cancer

A 53,000-year-old strain of hepatitis B (HBV) unique to the Northern Territory is giving new hope for preventative treatment against liver cancer.

New research has suggested the C4 strain of HBV entered Australia tens of thousands of years ago.

That subtype has not been found anywhere else in the world outside of the Northern Territory, where there are high rates of liver cancer among Indigenous Australians.

Dr Josh Davis, from Menzies School of Health Research, said the strain seemed to be "more aggressive than the strains found elsewhere".


Monday, July 27, 2015

Vaxin First-in-Man Phase I Clinical Trial Initiated in Chronically Infected Hepatitis B Patients

GAITHERSBURG, MD, USA I July 27, 2015 I Vaxin Inc., a clinical stage vaccine and immunotherapeutics company, today announced that it has enrolled the first patient into a phase I clinical trial of HepTcell™ (FP-02.2), the company's immunotherapeutic compound to treat people chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV). The multi-center trial will be conducted at seven sites within the United Kingdom, and aims to recruit 72 patients with chronic HBV infection.

The trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled dose-escalation study. The primary endpoints are safety and tolerability. Secondary endpoints include immunogenicity and antiviral factors. HepTcell will be tested as an add-on treatment to the patient's standard of care. Current therapy standards include treatment with antiviral drugs which act to control virus replication but are unable to eliminate the virus and therefore require long-term treatment. The combined treatment strategy aims to stimulate immune responses to a level that would increase the low clinical cure rates observed in patients treated with antiviral therapy alone. Initial results are expected in Q4 2016.

HepTcell is a peptide-based immunotherapeutic incorporating Vaxin's proprietary Densigen™ technology. This product candidate comprises nine long peptides covering conserved regions of core, polymerase and surface proteins from HBV, each linked to a fluorocarbon tail which acts to enhance immune responses. Using a bioinformatics platform, HepTcell has been designed to elicit T cell responses to each of the major infecting HBV genotypes, as well as in an ethnically diverse population, thereby allowing applicability across a world-wide market. Treatment with HepTcell aims to restore functional T cell immune responses to the hepatitis virus in HBV-infected subjects where the natural immune responses are lacking or poor.

Professor Mark Thursz, MD PhD, a world expert in the treatment of hepatitis from Imperial College London, and chief investigator, said, "We are very excited to start this multi-center clinical study. Treatments like HepTcell that are designed to restore the immune response, offer a long-term treatment solution to chronically-infected hepatitis B patients, potentially allowing them to stop their antiviral medication."

"This is a continuation of the exciting work we obtained through the acquisition of Immune Targeting Systems earlier this year," said Bill Enright, CEO of Vaxin. Enright continued, "Pre-clinical development and manufacturing was co-funded through the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK (formerly Technology Strategy Board) for £2.0 million ($3.1 million), and a parallel funding commitment of $16 million from Vaxin investors."

About Chronic HepatitisHepatitis B virus (HBV) has infected >2 billion people worldwide, of whom more than 360 million people (5 percent of the world's population) remain chronically infected. HBV is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide, with over 600,000 HBV-related deaths per year and >36,000 in Europe. Life-threatening liver disease (cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma) occurs in as many as 40 percent of patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Even though prophylactic vaccination programs have led to declines in new HBV infections in many countries, CHB infection is a rapidly growing problem in Europe due to immigration of HBV carriers from endemic areas, and transmission from mother to child. The treatment of CHB has improved dramatically in the last 10 years, owing to the development of new antiviral compounds, including polymerase inhibitors or pegylated alpha-interferon. Despite significant retardation in HBV-related disease progression and reduction in mortality, those treatments rarely achieve clinical cure.

About VaxinVaxin Inc. is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing next-generation vaccines and immunotherapeutics to address significant public health and biodefense needs. By leveraging specific attributes of its two independent and complementary platform technologies, Vaxin can rapidly design product candidates against a wide range of disease targets, including respiratory diseases, chronic infections, and cancer. Our Densigen™ T-cell platform technology is uniquely suited to direct the immune response against traditionally difficult disease targets, including chronic infections and cancer, by directing an individual's immune system against multiple target antigens instead of just one. Vaxin's RespirVec™ platform utilizes convenient needle-free intranasal delivery to achieve broad immunity against disease pathogens more rapidly than conventional vaccines. Vaxin's product candidates are easily manufactured, highly stable, and provide a safe, effective alternative to current products. www.vaxin.com.


World Hepatitis Day: July 28, 2015

July 28, 2015


Worldwide 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. Every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis and yet all of these deaths could be prevented. With better awareness and understanding of how we can prevent hepatitis we can eliminate this disease and save 4,000 lives a day.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saint Barnabas Medical Center One of Three Programs in US to Receive CDC Funding for Free Hepatitis Screening for At Risk Populations

LIVINGSTON, NJ  – July 28 is World Hepatitis Day, whish is a significant issue for many residents of both New York and New Jersey according to Director Marketing and Public Relations Sally Malech. In order to improve hepatitis B screening and care, Saint Barnabas Medical Center (SBMC) in Livingston, New Jersey and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) in New York City teamed up to initiate a “Building Bridges to Liver Health” project. This partnership was one of three programs selected nationally to receive a $300,000 grant from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Northern New Jersey and New York City metropolitan area has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the nation. Together, SBMC and CBWCHC hope to increase hepatitis B education, screening, vaccination, and linkage to care to this high-need area. They will also partner with local organizations and providers to increase their capacity to screen and care for hepatitis B, with the goal of improving access and care to patients, and reducing the burden of hepatitis B in Asian Americans and other at-risk populations.

Read more....

Friday, July 24, 2015

China progresses in hepatitis B vaccination, more treatment effort urged

BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) -- China has won praises from WHO after reaching its goal to control hepatitis B infection among children through immunization ahead of schedule, but more effort is urged for its adult patients.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission announced on Friday that the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen, a key index indicating hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, for Chinese children in the 1-4 and 5-14 age groups both decreased by more than 60 percent from 2006 to 0.32 and 0.94 percent respectively.

This means the country has reached the goal set by the WHO to reduce HBV infection prevalence in children to less than one percent ahead of the deadline of 2017, making the current generation of children the first in the country's history to be almost hepatitis B-free.

Read more....

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hepatitis B Confers Worse Outcomes, More Advanced Disease

Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that was related to hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection were found to have more advanced clinicopathologic features and worse outcomes compared with those with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related HCC, according to a retrospective analysis conducted on historical data from patients treated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"Hepatitis B HCC patients tended to have shorter overall survival and time to progression regardless of systemic therapy, although the difference was not statistically significant," Marc Uemura, MD, MBA, fellow, hematology and medical oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, said during a presentation of the results at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting.

In the study, single institution medical records for 815 patients with viral-related HCC from 1992 to 2011 were reviewed. HCV was present in 472 patients (58%), while HBV was seen in 343 individuals (42%). Viral status was confirmed by serology.

 - See more at: http://www.targetedonc.com/publications/hcc-monitor/2015/july-2015/hepatitis-b-confers-worse-outcomes-more-advanced-disease#sthash.NEvhCq2e.dpuf