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Optimal therapy for chronic hepatitis B: hepatitis B virus combination therapy?

Abstract

Currently available antiviral treatment for chronic hepatitis B can be divided into two classes of therapeutic agents: pegylated interferon alpha (PEG-IFN) and nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs). The major advantages of NAs are good tolerance and potent antiviral activity associated with high rates of on-treatment response to therapy. The advantages of PEG-IFN include a finite course of treatment, the absence of drug resistance, and an opportunity to obtain a durable post-treatment response to therapy. The use of these two antiviral agents with different mechanisms of action in combination is theoretically an attractive approach for treatment, either simultaneously, as sequential combination therapy (add-on), or even as an immediate switch from one agent to the other. Different NAs have also been combined in certain clinical situations. At present, several studies have confirmed certain virological advantages to combination therapies, but pivotal prospective studies demonstrating long-term clinical benefit to patients are still missing. Therefore, combination treatment, especially with PEG-IFN plus NAs, is not indicated and was not recommended by the European Association for the Study of the Liver Clinical Practice Guidelines written in 2012, while the guidelines for the use of combination NAs is limited to very few clinical situations.

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