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July 1, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Scientists work on cure for hepatitis B

MEDICAL scientists are working on a way to cure hepatitis B by injecting a vaccine regularly.

They hope the vaccine can eliminate the disease once and for all.

They have already succeeded in curing one HBV carrier with the new method during a clinical trial.

According to Pierre Tiollais, a medical scientist and emeritus professor of the Pasteur Institute, the scientists vaccinated the carrier three times in three months. After three more months, they found the virus was gone.

Hepatitis B infects the liver. Chronic hepatitis B can lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.

But the new method is still in the experimental stage, said Zhang Xinxin, director of Shanghai Ruijin Hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases.

"It may still take several years of clinical trials before the method is put into use," she said.

During a lecture yesterday at Shanghai Science Hall, Tiollais shared his experience in the development of the country's first DNA recombinant vaccine against HBV with Chinese scientists in 2001.

He was quite optimistic about HBV therapy and said the vaccination had covered a large proportion of the country's population.

The vaccine is available to 90 percent of the nation's infants in urban areas and 85 percent in rural areas.

According to Tiollais, the nationwide mass vaccination against hepatitis B virus has prevented more than 30 million Chinese from becoming carriers since 1992.

Only 7 percent of the country's adults now carry HBV, down from 10 percent in 1992.

Among infants and children, the rate of infection has decreased from about 10 percent in 1992 to 2 percent now.


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