May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in the US. Here we look at the five types of viral hepatitis and some of the drugs that can treat the disease.n
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, usually caused by a viral infection. But liver damage from alcohol consumption or, in rare cases, autoimmune conditions can cause the inflammation.
Types of Viral Hepatitis
There are 5 types of viral hepatitis : A, B, C, D and E
– Hepatitis A and E – Spread by food or water contamination. Types A and E usually don’t require treatment. Recovery time is one to two months.
– Hepatitis B and C – Spread by infected blood or bodily fluids. Types B and C often require treatment to cure. Chronic cases can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.
– Hepatitis D – It can infect only people with Type B hepatitis.
- Vaccination is possible for hepatitis A and B.
2. Interferon Therapy –
– It reduces protein synthesis, activates immune system and induce infected cell death. Cells infected by pathogens release signalling proteins called interferons. These molecules serve as a warning to nearby cells activating antiviral responses. Hepatitis B and C viruses can inhibit interferon signalling to evade the body’s antiviral responses.
-Injection of synthetic alpha interferons can treat chronic hepatitis B or C, enhancing the patient’s immune response to the viruses. The interferons are usually administered with an antiviral drug such as ribavirin. In some patients, this therapy is not effective, and it can cause flu like symptoms as a side effect.
3. Antiviral Drugs –
– In the past seven years, multiple direct acting antivirals (DAA’s) have been developed to treat chronic hepatitis. The drugs disrupt virus replication and infection. Often they are used in combination, and some are more effective crayon virus genotypes.
– Combinations of antiviral drugs are superseding interferon based treatments because, in almost all cases, the antivirals can clear the hepatitis infection while causing fewer side effects. Cost is the only downside.