1Center for ViroScience and Cure, Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology, Department of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Introduction: The burden of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) results in almost a million deaths per year. The most common treatment for chronic hepatitis B infection is long-term nucleoside analogs (NUC) or one-year interferon-alpha (pegylated or non-pegylated) therapy before or after NUC therapy. Unfortunately, these therapies rarely result in HBV functional cure because they do not eradicate HBV from the nucleus of the hepatocytes, where the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) is formed and/or where the integrated HBV DNA persists in the host genome. Hence, the search continues for novel antiviral therapies that target different steps of the HBV replication cycle to cure chronically infected HBV individuals and eliminate HBV from the liver reservoirs.
Areas covered: The authors focus on capsid assembly modulators (CAMs). These molecules are unique because they impact not only one but several steps of HBV viral replication, including capsid assembly, capsid trafficking into the nucleus, reverse transcription, pre-genomic RNA (pgRNA), and polymerase protein co-packaging.
Expert opinion: Mono- or combination therapy, including CAMs with other HBV drugs, may potentially eliminate hepatitis B infections. Nevertheless, more data on their potential effect on HBV elimination is needed, especially when used daily for 6-12 months.