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Taiwan researchers find way to predict hepatitis B virus activity

2010/07/24 21:13

Taipei, July 24 (CNA) Taiwanese researchers have found a way to"customize" treatments for individual hepatitis B patients bypredicting the activity of the virus, according to the head of theresearch team Saturday.

The study, which analyzed cases of hepatitis B virus(HBV) infections reported in the past 17 years, found twointercellular mediators in the immune system that can "predict" HBVactivity, said Wu Jia-feng, a pediatrician at National TaiwanUniversity Hospital.

In chronic HB patients, the team found, there is a higherconcentration of the mediators -- known as interleukin-10 andinterleukin-12 -- which trigger the HB antigen (HBeAg) earlier thanin those with a lower concentration of the mediators.

Wu explained that when a patient tests positive for HBeAg itmeans the virus is reproducing, while a negative result means theimmune system has suppressed the hepatitis B virus.

The goal of HB treatments has been to "turn the HBeAgnegative," Wu said.

Existing anti-viral drugs have not been very effective in thetreatment of HB patients, as only 20 percent to 30 percent haveshown signs of improvement after taking the drugs for one year, Wusaid.

The intercellular mediators could be a factor in theineffectiveness of the drugs, he added.

The study was published in the U.S.-based Gastroenterologyjournal in January.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)enditem /pc