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March 19, 2009
Possible cure for Hepatitis B
By Amresh Gunasingham
Twleve researchers from A*Star and NUS have developed antibodies which could cure chronic hepititis B. -- PHOTO: SPH
RESEARCHERS in Singapore are developing a treatment which could eventually lead to a cure for chronic hepatitis B (HBV), the leading cause of liver cancer in Singapore.
Present medication can control the virus but cannot cure the infection.
Their research was highlighted this week in a two-day conference at the Biopolis, which attracted eminent scientists from Singapore and Britain.
Twelve researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed antibodies which can enhance the delivery of drugs to cells in the body infected by the HBV virus.
'Current anti-viral treatment, while effective in curbing the replication of the virus, cannot eliminate the infection entirely,' said Professor Antonio Bertoletti, principal investigator at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences at A*Star, who is leading the research effort which started two years ago.
Patients have chronic hepatitis B because they are unable to make antibodies which can recognise and fight off the virus, the researchers concluded. To overcome this, they developed a compound which when injected into a patient, can 'reprogram' the immune system to recognise cells infected by the virus.
The compound uses virus-fighting T-cells from patients who have been cured of the virus. The injected antibodies can carry the drug into the infected cells. The method has been used in cancer therapy.
But a viable treatment remains at least 'two to three years' away as tests are still being conducted on animals.
Associate Professor Lim Seng Gee, Chief of Hepatology at National University Hospital, said the project could be a 'major breakthrough' as the role of the immune system in controlling the HBV virus is 'still not well understood'.
'There is no cure for hepatitis B, so the next stage of medical advancement will be to develop a treatment to remove the virus completely from the liver,' he said.
i am just wondering why could we just not use the hepatitis b immune globulin available in the market and inject it to those with chronic infection until it binds all the circulating surface antigens in the blood? this approach is somewhat similar to the research in this post don't you think?.
Once infest ed none of the medications available will cure you. Though you have apoint , medical science does not think it will work. A cure I think is not far away. Lets pray for more funding and researches taking interest in our case.
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