Quest Diagnostics launched a new quantitative test that will help doctors in the U.S. measure a patient’s response to therapy while being treated for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
Today, 2.2 million people in the U.S. are estimated to be infected with HBV. Chronic HBV infections are currently treated with antiviral therapies or interferon alpha (PEG-IFN), but cure rates are lower than infections from hepatitis C, for example, due to the persistent nature of HBV and the low treatment compliance rates of patients, who must endure long-term therapies.
Quest’s hepatitis B surface antigen’s (HBsAg) quantitative test might help personalize treatment for people with HBV infections and achieve better outcomes.
The HBsAg qualitative test is used to help in the diagnosis of HBV, but Quest’s new quantitative test detects not only the presence, but also the quantity of the viral antigen in blood to help determine if the immune system is responding to treatment.
HBsAg testing is an important resource to monitor the response to new therapeutic approaches, and knowing the quantity of viral antigen allows physicians to modify or adjust treatment to help minimize the probability of viral progression and reactivation.
“An estimated 850,000 to 2.2 million persons in the U.S. are infected with chronic hepatitis B,” Rick L. Pesano, MD, PhD, vice president of research and development at Quest, said in a press release. “While there are effective therapies that can functionally cure HBV infection, physicians in the U.S. have lacked tools that help predict individualized patient response to those treatments.”
“With this new test capability, physicians can better develop tailored treatment plans and monitor HBV-infected patients to help prevent progression and better their chance for long-term immunity,” Pesano added.
Robert G. Gish, MD, medical director of the Hepatitis B Foundation, said the “widespread availability of quantitative HBsAg testing” for doctors will improve the care of patients infected with HBV.
“The ability to reliably quantify surface antigen will enhance clinicians’ ability to stage patients’ disease state, provide prognostic information, and help guide care with current antivirals and new therapies that are in the development pipeline,” Gish said.
Quest also collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify new trends in screening, diagnosis, and treatment for viral hepatitis (A, B, C, and E) in the U.S. based on the national Quest Diagnostics Health Trends database.