Hepatitis B virus (HBV) Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person. It is estimated that 250 million people worldwide are chronically infected with HBV, and 15-25% of these patients develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver decompensation. It is also estimated that more than 780,000 people die every year due to complications of hepatitis B. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates the total number of people chronically infected with HBV in the US is between 850,000 and 2,200,000. Combining US, Japan, and major EU populations, estimates of prevalence have been as high as 4.9 million.
Current approaches to HBV treatment include interferon therapy and/or inhibitors of HBV reverse transcriptase. Treatment with interferon offers modest cure rates, and is accompanied by serious side effects. Reverse transcriptase inhibitors can be very effective at suppressing the virus but rarely result in full eradication of the virus from the liver. New treatments that can provide functional cures to chronically-infected patients are urgently needed.
In our HBV research, our initial focus is on so-called core inhibitors, which are designed to inhibit HBV replication. We have preclinical leads and IP activity ongoing and plan to advance our leads in 2017.
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For an overview of our research, including our licensed products, please see Our Pipeline.