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Hepatitis B: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Tuesday, 09 Nov 2010 12:40 PM


The main symptoms of hepatitis B are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness, itching of the body, slight heaviness, dull pain in the right side of the abdomen just under the rib cage, and yellowing of the skin. After a two- to six-month incubation period, hepatitis B symptoms can lead to acute hepatitis. In addition, early hepatitis B symptoms may lead to jaundice followed by cirrhosis of the liver – even cancer. Some of the latest medical breakthroughs for the treatment of hepatitis B include:


Alpfa Interferon
: The Food and Drug Administration approved treatment for hepatitis B is Alpfa Interferon, which is an antiviral agent that inhibits growth and is capable of modifying immune properties. For the treatment of hepatitis B, interferon is administered through injection three times weekly for 12 to 16 weeks. Interferon injections are available under the brand names Intron A, Infergen, and Roferon. Side effects include muscle ache, fatigue, low-grade fever, and depression.


Lumivudine:
Taken orally once daily, limuvadine acts by inhibiting the viral DNA synthesis of hepatitis B. The main drawback of treatment is the relapse of hepatitis B once treatment is discontinued. Lamivudine is available under the brand name Epivir-HBV.


Baraclude
: This is the latest drug approved by the FDA for hepatitis B treatment. Available under the brand name Entecavir, Baraclude acts by inhibiting the function of the hepatitis B virus polymerase. The known side effects include headache, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.


Role of T Cells
: Scientists have identified the reason why some people can successfully fight hepatitis B disease while others cannot. In the human immune system, T cells play a major role. In chronic patients, T cells were triggered to eliminate themselves, leaving the immune system unable to fight the hepatitis B infection.


Recombinant-type hepatitis B vaccine:
This vaccine, produced by recombinant DNA technology, is available in the United States under the brand names Recombivax HB and Engerix-B.


Hepatitis B titer antibody test
: This test determines the quantity of hepatitis B antibody present in the blood serum and determines immunity against hepatitis B. This test should be performed within two months after completion of the hepatitis B vaccination.




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