Australian researchers have begun clinical trials of a combination drug therapy that has proven to be 100 percent effective as a hepatitis B cure in preclinical models. The therapy combines birinapant, an antiviral drug, and entecavir, an anticancer drug. The two drugs work together to eliminate the hepatitis B virus, or HBV, from the body.
Hepatits B is a virus that infects cells in the liver. Medical professionals estimate that more than two billion people are infected with hepatitis B, and about 400 million people have chronic hepatitis B. Almost 800,000 people die each year from their hepatitis B infections, usually from cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
How the Drugs Work
When your body detects that a cell has been infected with a virus, it normally signals the cell to destroy itself in the interest of preventing other cells from getting infected. However, when a cell is infected with the hepatitis B virus, HBV tells the cell to ignore the self-destruct order so it can survive. It then lives in the hijacked cell and goes on to infect other cells. Birinapant is able to tell a cell infected with hepatitis B to ignore the reversal order and to go ahead and destroy itself. Only cells infected with hepatitis B are affected; normal healthy cells aren’t told to do anything at all. Entecavir increases the effectiveness of birinapant, and the drug combination eliminates the hepatitis B virus twice as fast than with birinapant alone.
Researchers believe this approach to destroying the HBV virus will make it difficult for drug-resistant strains to develop. While some viruses can mutate to protect themselves against drugs that attack the virus directly, this approach instead changes the way the host cell reacts to HBV. The only way the virus can live is if the host cell lives, and when the host cell destroys itself, the virus dies, too.
Anonymous Hepatitis B Test
If you don’t already have hepatitis B, you can get vaccinated against the disease, and your body’s immune system will prevent you from getting infected. Once you have the disease, however, the vaccine isn’t effective. There is a blood test you can get that tells you if you have the hepatitis B virus. If you don’t want your positive test results reported to the health department, follow the instructions in our free guide to anonymous STD tests to get an anonymous hepatitis B test.
Curing Other Serious Diseases
Other viruses such as HIV, tuberculosis and dengue fever behave similarly to HBV by living inside the host cells they infect. Researchers are hopeful they can develop similar solutions to enable the body to rid itself of these other serious diseases.