A new promising combination therapy against hepatitis B outlined in a recent study, entitled, “Entecavir combined with furin inhibitor simultaneously reduces hepatitis B virus replication and e antigen secretion” published in Virology Journal by Hui Y Yang, the first author of the study, part of Dr. Xiao M Peng’s group from Hepatology Laboratory, the Hospital for Liver Disease, Sun Yat-Sen University, China, may offer a potential antiviral therapy for the chronic form of the disease.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections cause 1 million deaths worldwide per year. Antiviral therapy is crucial to improve the prognoses of the patients. There are three main aims to be achieved in the antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, a virological response, undetectable levels of HBV DNA in the serum, and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion (HBeAg serological response). While the HBeAg persistence is an independent risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma, the HBeAg seroconversion is thought to be important for a benign prognosis. The virological response plus HBeAg serological response have a low relapse probability, when patients are not under treatment with the current antiviral therapy, when compared with virological response alone. The current antiviral therapies include recombinant interferon and nucleoside/nucleoside analogs, like entecavir (ETV), which cannot rapidly achieve simultaneously the two main aims of the antiviral therapy. Nucleoside analog entecavir (ETV) inhibits HBV replication but may induce HBeAg seroconversion. For these reasons, ETV combined with some direct HBeAg secretion-inhibitory strategies seems a way to improve the current antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis B.