Mathematical Biosciences Institute & Department of Mathematics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America.
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a liver disorder that can result in cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. HBV infection remains a major global health problem, as it affects more 350 million people chronically and kills roughly 600,000 people annually. Drugs currently used against HBV include IFN-α that decreases viremia, inflammation and the growth of liver fibrosis, and adefovir that decreases the viral load. Each of these drugs can have severe side-effects. In the present paper, we consider the treatment of chronic HBV by a combination of IFN-α and adefovir, and raise the following question: What should be the optimal ratio between IFN-α and adefovir in order to achieve the best 'efficacy' under constraints on the total amount of the drugs; here the efficacy is measured by the reduction of the levels of inflammation and of fibrosis? We develop a mathematical model of HBV pathogenesis by a system of partial differential equations (PDEs) and use the model to simulate a 'synergy map' which addresses the above question.