Two Bangladeshis develop drug for Hepatitis B
Patients infected with Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) may get much better and more effective treatment than ever before.

An advanced prescription medicine, developed by two Bangladeshi researchers, is set to hit local drugstores early next year after getting approval from the drug administration.

The two Bangladeshi researchers, also physicians, have developed the breakthrough medicine for treating HBV while a leading pharmaceutical company of the county will manufacture and release the drug in the local market, making it cheaper and available at major drugstores across the country.

"The therapeutic medicine named NASVAC may not be a magic drug, but it has shown a positive response rate of about 50.0 per cent in case of patients infected with Hepatitis B and 100.0 per cent in curing liver inflammation", Mamun Al Mahtab, the principal investigator for clinical trials of this drug, told BSS recently.

Mahtab, an associate professor of Department of Hepatology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, carried out the required trials while Sheikh Mohammad Fazle Akbar conducted the fundamental researches for developing the medicine.

Akbar, a liver expert, is now a professor at a university in Japan. He had been conducting the research to introduce a new hepatitis B treatment method in the last 25 years. The main theme of his research was to control Hepatitis B by developing disease resistant power in human body.

Akbar conducted the initial clinical trial on Hepatitis B patients with approval of the health and education ministry of Japan after the successful experiment on transgenic mice. Subsequently, Mahtab prepared a database of one thousand Hepatitis B patients in Bangladesh for further research.

The first and second trials of NASVAC were conducted in Bangladesh in 2009 on 18 chronic Hepatitis B patients. After getting the promising result from the two trials, the third trial was conducted in 2011 on 151 patients by dividing them in two groups. One group was treated by NASVAC while the other was given traditional Peg IFN.

"NASVAC showed more effectiveness over Peg IFN," said Mahtab.

He said the clinical trial in advanced stage was conducted in different countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe and Australia and in the Asia Pacific region.

The doctor said the drug has already got approval from the authorities in Cuba, Belarus, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Angola.

Currently, there is no drug available for full cure of HBV infection. Doctors, however, often go through conventional treatment to slowdown the progress of the virus infection so it could not create serious complications like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

"The conventional treatment also requires use of medicine for a long-time, leading patient to suffer from various side effects whereas NASVAC in clinical trial proves much effective in controlling virus," said Mahtab.

Apart from this, the doctor said NASVAC in clinical trial also showed much effective than conventional drugs in controlling not only HBV, but also other chronic infection.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), around 240 million people worldwide are living with chronic hepatitis B virus.

Referring to a scientific study, Mahtab said more than five crore people in Bangladesh are affected by Hepatitis B. Among them, over 8 million are infected with chronic Hepatitis B and at risk of deadly diseases like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
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