Study Suggests Pegylated Interferon Alpha Offers Best Treatment Option for Chronic Hepatitis B Infection

January 7, 2005

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