Hepatitis Foundation International

In the News…

Hepatitis Foundation International Observes
World Hepatitis Day,
July 28, 2013
This is hepatitis.
Know it. Confront it.

Washington, DC, — World Hepatitis Day (WHD) will prompt people to talk about viral hepatitis and the heavy disease burden it presents globally. Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E can cause acute and chronic infection and inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Worldwide 500 million people are living with either chronic hepatitis B or C. Although this is far higher than the prevalence of HIV or any cancer, hepatitis is often ignored, awareness is inexplicably low, and the majority of those infected are often unaware. Those infected are at high risk of developing severe chronic liver disease and can unknowingly transmit the virus to other people. The long-term objective of WHD is to prevent new infections and to deliver real improvements in health outcomes for people living with hepatitis B and C. Read More…

Listen to HFI’s National Briefing…

An impressive panel of speakers at HFI’s February National Briefing on Capital Hill, hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin, highlighted the impact choice of foods and lifestyle behaviors can have on liver health and prevention of obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, drug abuse, high cholesterol, hepatitis, strokes and heart attacks…and the need for including liver health education in schools across the nation.

The Briefing, aimed at Placing the Liver Front and Center in Prevention, filled an enormous gap in information about the most complex and misunderstood organ in our bodies, the liver.

Information about the liver has been missing for decades in schools resulting in overwhelming numbers of chronic liver related illnesses and preventable deaths.

Listen to the National Briefing speakers now.

HCV Update From
Liver Meetings…

Gilead Sciences Inc. (GIL) results showed that combining Gilead’s experimental drugs with a standard medicine cleared the hepatitis C virus in all 25 patients in a 12-week trial. They may have an edge on rivals developing new hepatitis C drugs.  Gilead’s studies looked at patients four weeks after its therapy ended.

Abbott (ABT) based in Abbott Park, Illinois, showed  data regarding a combination of its therapies rid 87 percent of 79 patients of the virus after 12 weeks of therapy, or 97 percent when given ribavirin. Abbott’s drug data measured patients 12 weeks after the end of treatment.

Bristol-Myers (BMY) reported results that combining three of its experimental medicines — daclatasvir, asunaprevir and BMS-791325 — cleared the hepatitis C virus in 94 percent of 16 patients in a trial.

Merck (MRK)reports experimental drug, MK-5172 a protease inhibitor, suppressed hepatitis C virus in most patients. The study included the use of injected interferon and appears to be more potent than another Merck drug, Victrelis.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) reported efficacy of telaprevir with peg-interferon plus ribavirin in patients with HCV/HIV coinfection that was similar to that found in HCV monoinfection. 

Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ACHN)  showed that their novel protease and NS5A inhibitor demonstrate high efficacy in in vitro studies.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IDIX), updated the antiviral activity and safety of IDX184 and reported on the activity of IDX719 against genotypes 1-4.

Boeheringer Ingelheim’s phase 2b study of interferon free
hepatitis C treatment shows viral cure achieved in up to 85%
of treatment naïve patients.

For further information visit their websites.

Leading Cause of Acute Liver Failure Is Self-Induced

Acetaminophen, a drug found in Tylenol, Nyquil, Excedrin, and many other over the counter drugs, if taken more frequently and in greater dosage than recommended on the bottle, is the number one cause of drug induced serious liver damage. It is often fatal.  Adults as well as babies have died due to overdose of this broadly used analgesic.

Few parents are aware that the Infant Tylenol (given by dropper to babies) is 3 times as strong as the elixir (dosed by teaspoon) created and marketed for young children.  Not realizing this, infants have been given a teaspoon of the triple strength Tylenol elixir by caregivers who did not realize that this overdose could be cause fatal liver damage.  

Adults taking therapeutic doses of acetaminophen recommended for their medical condition, rarely experience liver toxicity, unless they consume excess alcohol or are fasting. However, since multiple drugs may contain acetaminophen, the recommended doses may be inadvertently exceeded. Annually a number of patients tragically succumb from drug (acetaminophen) induced acute liver injury. The time it takes to diagnosing liver damage and then search for matching liver donation for transplantation contributes to these sad occurrences.

There are hundreds of herbal and dietary supplements that also can cause liver damage.  The National Institutes of Health, (NIH) has a searchable database of over 700 medications linked to liver damage.  Visit Livertox.nih.gov to find a list of these products with warnings about their liver toxicity.

All drugs, herbal and dietary supplements in addition to the fatty foods and sugary drinks you ingest, must be processed through your liver and may damage liver cells. Long-term liver injury due to these substances may result in non-functioning scar tissue called cirrhosis.

Learn why and how to protect your liver.

Visit www.PartnersinLiverWellness.org website.

How can you choose a longer, happier life?

Will you ever face a chronic disease? The answer could depend on the choices you make today. With heart disease, obesity, fatty liver, strokes, diabetes, and viral hepatitis on the rise, knowing the facts could save or prolong your life.

Few schools mention the liver in their health-education classes. Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI) found that only 3 out of 300 Maryland teachers recalled learning anything about the liver in school. Yet people need to know that the liver processes everything that we eat, breathe, and absorb through our skin.

Most people knows that food is fuel. But few people realize that the liver converts food into what we need to maintain energy, build muscle, digest our food, and recover from cuts and scrapes. The liver helps with hundreds of other life-sustaining body functions. It’s the body’s powerhouse. But why is that important?

Because your food choices could lead to liver damage. The biggest culprits are fatty foods, sugary drinks and chemicals in drugs and alcohol. The wrong choices could devastate your liver—a miraculous, noncomplaining organ that needs to work efficiently 24 hours a day nonstop.

Who cares? Your body does. If you are silently killing off liver cells, you could develop cirrhosis, even if you don’t drink alcohol. And if you’re sharing a razor or toothbrush or engaging in other risky behaviors, you could be a candidate for hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E.

Yes, there’s a whole alphabet of diseases that you can easily avoid—simply by making the right choices. Not only could you avoid a chronic disease and saving your own life, you would help save the lives of others.

As a nation, we could save billions of dollars needlessly spent on diseases that can be prevented. But it will take education—from preschool through university-level courses.

The goal of the Hepatitis Foundation International is to create a well-informed pool of educators, social workers, counselors and others in leadership roles. We’re giving them effective communication techniques and educational tools about liver health and wellness.

They, in turn, can reach thousands of others and especially our children. So make the right choice. Eat healthy foods, avoid preventable diseases, and donate to Hepatitis Foundation International. (Posted Aug. 20, 2012)

Vaccine Effective Despite Transfer of Mothers’ Antibodies to Hepatitis A Virus to Child

A study published in Hepatology reported that seropositivity to hepatitis A persists for at least ten years after primary vaccination with two-dose inactivated HAV vaccine when administered to children at ages 12 months and older, regardless of their mothers’ anti-HAV status. “These findings support current CDC/ACIP guidelines for routine administration of two doses of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine to all children in the U.S. beginning at the age of 12 months.” according to lead author Dr. Umid Sharapov, an epidemiologist with the CDC. However, the authors point out that a future booster dose may be necessary to maintain protection against HAV and they will continue follow-up participants into their teens to monitor benefit of the initial immunization (Posted Aug. 9, 2012).

The Increasing Burden of Mortality From Viral Hepatitis in the
United States Between 1999 and 2007

The increasing health burden and mortality from hepatitis
B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States are underappreciated… By 2007, HCV had superseded HIV as a cause of death in the United States, and deaths from HCV and HBV disproportionately occurred in middle-aged persons. To achieve decreases in mortality similar to those seen with HIV requires new policy initiatives to detect patients with chronic hepatitis and link them to care and treatment.
(2012, Annals of Internal Medicine). Read more…

The Cost-Effectiveness of Birth-Cohort Screening for
Hepatitis C Antibody in U.S. Primary Care Settings

In the United States, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is most prevalent among adults born from 1945 through 1965, and approximately 50% to 75% of infected adults are unaware of their infection. A study shows that birth-cohort screening for HCV in primary care settings was cost-effective.
(2012, American College of Physicians). Read more…

New Protease Inhibitors for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C virus is difficult to treat and affects
approximately 3 million Americans. Protease inhibitors increase the effectiveness of standard therapy, but they are costly. A genetic assay may identify patients most likely to benefit from this treatment advance.
(2012, Annals of Internal Medicine). Read more…

Hepatitis C: The End of the Beginning
and Possibly the Beginning of the End

Not since the initial cloning of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 1989 and the subsequent development of assays to detect silent carriers (1) and protect the blood supply (2) have data on this infection been so exciting. (2012, Annals of Internal Medicine). Read more…

New Liver-Like Cells Enhance HCV Research

Researchers at MIT, Rockefeller University and the Medical College of Wisconsin have found a way to create liver-like cells from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which are made from body tissues rather than embryos. These liver-like cells can then be infected with hepatitis C. Studying liver cells from various people could reveal genetic factors to enhance efforts to understand why some people are resistant to hepatitis C, while others are highly susceptible to this infectious disease.

Along with benefiting hepatitis C research, the new technique may eventually have a role in personalized medicine, the researchers said in a MIT news release. By testing the effectiveness of different drugs on tissues derived from a patient, doctors may be able to customize therapy for patients.

Drug Induced Liver Injury 

Drug-induced liver injury is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the US with overdoses of acetaminophen identified as the most frequent cause of liver injury. . Liver toxicity limits the development of many therapeutic compounds and presents major challenges to both clinical medicine and to the pharmaceutical industry causing abandoning drugs early in development or withdrawal from the market. Currently, no pharmaceutical strategies exist for preventing drug-induced liver injury and treatment options are limited to discontinuing the offending drug, supportive care, and transplantation for end-stage liver failure.

Suraj Patel, a postdoctoral researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Marti Yamush at Rutgers have developed a clinically viable strategy that targets a liver’s gap junctions—hollow multimolecular channels that connect neighboring cells and allow direct communication between coupled cells. They have shown that gap junctions spread immune signals from injured liver cells to surrounding undamaged cells, amplifying inflammation and injury. The current study examined inhibiting the action of liver-specific gap junctions to limit drug-induced liver injury. Much more needs to be known about any off-target effects of gap junction inhibitors and better understand the long-term ramifications of temporarily blocking liver-specific gap junction channels before applying this approach to patients, according to Dr. Patel.