Vaccination campaigns beat back viral hepatitis

The most serious types of viral hepatitis show signs of a steady retreat, beaten back by years of persistent vaccination campaigns in the U.S. Experts at the CDC say that there's been a decrease of hepatitis A infections in adults, a big drop in hepatitis B infections in people aged 6 to 39 and a slide in hepatitis C cases in the group considered most at risk.

Decades of vaccination campaigns against hepatitis A and B appear to have worked on that front, while the CDC says that hepatitis C cases may be falling as a result of a campaign to warn people away from the kind of risky behavior that spreads the virus.

Hepatitis B and C can both trigger chronic infections leading to liver disease and cancer. And HealthDay also notes that hepatitis C is the most commonly seen blood borne infection in the country. HCV is also a big target for drug developers--like Vertex--interested in grabbing a share of a huge market. And like HIV, developers are targeting a new generation of combination therapies.

"It really became clear early on that these hepatitis C agents couldn't really be given [as single agents] because of the virus's ability to develop resistance," Vertex CMO Bob Kauffman recently told Xconomy. Other drug projects are underway at Abbott Laboratories, Merck, Anadys and Gilead.

- here's the story from HealthDay