1Department of Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, National University Health System, Singapore.
HDV is a defective virus that uses the HBV surface antigen to enter hepatocytes. It is associated with an accelerated course of liver fibrosis progression and an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Negative HDV RNA 24 weeks after the end of therapy has been proposed as an endpoint but late relapses make this endpoint suboptimal, hence HBsAg loss appears to be more appropriate. Current HBV antiviral agents have poor activity against HDV hence the search for improved therapy. Drugs only active against HDV, such as lonafarnib, have shown efficacy in combination with nucleoside analogues and peginterferon, but do not lead to HBsAg loss. HBsAg loss sustained 24 weeks after the end of therapy with negative HBV DNA is termed functional cure. Agents that are being investigated for functional cure include those that inhibit replication such as entry inhibitors, polymerase inhibitors and capsid assembly modulators but seldom lead to functional cure. Agents that reduce HBV antigen load such as RNA interference and inhibitors of HBsAg secretion are promising. Immunomodulators on their own seldom achieve functional cure, hence these agents in combination to assess the optimal combination are being investigated. Consequently, agents leading to functional cure of HBV are ideal for both HBV and HDV.