Hepatitis B cure: From discovery to regulatory approval

J Hepatol. 2017 Oct;67(4):847-861. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2017.05.008. Epub 2017 Aug 1.


The majority of persons currently treated for chronic hepatitis B require long-term or lifelong therapy. New inhibitors of hepatitis B virus entry, replication, assembly, or secretion and immune modulatory therapies are in development. The introduction of these novel compounds for chronic hepatitis B necessitates a standardised appraisal of the efficacy and safety of these treatments and definitions of new or additional endpoints to inform clinical trials. To move the field forward and to expedite the pathway from discovery to regulatory approval, a workshop with key stakeholders was held in September 2016 to develop a consensus on treatment endpoints to guide the design of clinical trials aimed at hepatitis B cure. The consensus reached was that a complete sterilising cure, i.e., viral eradication from the host, is unlikely to be feasible. Instead, a functional cure characterised by sustained loss of hepatitis B surface antigen with or without hepatitis B surface antibody seroconversion, which is associated with improved clinical outcomes, in a higher proportion of patients than is currently achieved with existing treatments is a feasible goal. Development of standardised assays for novel biomarkers toward better defining hepatitis B virus cure should occur in parallel with development of novel antiviral and immune modulatory therapies such that approval of new treatments can be linked to the approval of new diagnostic assays used to measure efficacy or to predict response. Combination of antiviral and immune modulatory therapies will likely be needed to achieve functional hepatitis B virus cure. Limited proof-of-concept monotherapy studies to evaluate safety and antiviral activity should be conducted prior to proceeding to combination therapies. The safety of any new curative therapies will be paramount given the excellent safety of currently approved nucleos(t)ide analogues.

Keywords: Antiviral therapy; Chronic hepatitis B; Covalently closed circular DNA; Hepatitis B surface antigen; Immune modulatory therapy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Discovery
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / blood
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines / therapeutic use
  • Hepatitis B virus / drug effects
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / physiology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / immunology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Sustained Virologic Response
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Vaccines