Hepatitis B is a serious infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), affecting 3.6 per cent of Singapore's population. Hepatitis B can become chronic, resulting in higher risk of liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis. There is no cure for hepatitis B at the moment but the disease can be prevented through vaccination and avoiding close contact with an infected person.
A trial involving the combination of interferon, a powerful drug used to treat hepatitis B through the form of a jab, and Tenofovir, an oral medication, saw an 11 per cent success rate in the treatment of the condition. The $25 million trial, funded by the National Medical Research Council, was led by Professor Lim Seng Gee from NUS Medicine’s Department of Medicine. Prof Lim is also a senior consultant of gastroenterology and hepatopy at the National University Hospital.
A 57-year old man who participated in the 48-week clinical trial has since recovered from the disease. Before the trial, he had to pop a pill daily to keep the hepatitis B virus under control and prevent it from causing more damage to his liver.