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Results of an international study in this weeks issue of The Lancet suggest that pegylated interferon alpha offers the best treatment option for people with chronic hepatitis B infection.
Patients successfully treated for chronic hepatitis B are less likely to develop cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Previous research has suggested that treatmenteither with standard interferon a or nucleoside analoguesis only around 20 percent effective at best.
Harry Janssen of the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues assessed whether combination treatment with pegylated interferon alpha-2 beta and the antiviral agent lamivudine was more efficacious in treating chronic hepatitis B infection than pegylated interferon alpha-2 beta therapy alone. Around 300 patients from 42 centers in 15 countries who had chronic hepatitis B were assigned combination therapy or monotherapy for one year.
Thirty-six percent of patients assigned monotherapy and 35 percent assigned combination therapy had a sustained viral response (clearance of the hepatitis B e Ag) indicating disease remission at the end of the half year follow-up period.
The study also highlights the importance of hepatitis B virus genotype as a predictor of response to pegylated interferon.
Source: The Lancet