Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets | 2021
Hepatitis B virus: promising drug targets and therapeutic implications
ABSTRACT Introduction : Current therapy for infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) rarely clears the virus, and viremia commonly resurges following treatment withdrawal. To prevent serious complications of the infection, research has been aimed at identifying new viral and host targets that can be exploited to inactivate HBV replication. Areas covered : This paper reviews the use of these new molecular targets to advance anti-HBV therapy. Emphasis is on appraising data from pre-clinical and early clinical studies described in journal articles published during the past 10 years and available from PubMed. Expert opinion : The wide range of viral and host factors that can be targeted to disable HBV is impressive and improved insight into HBV molecular biology continues to provide the basis for new drug design. In addition to candidate therapies that have direct or indirect actions on HBV covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), compounds that inhibit HBsAg secretion, viral entry, destabilize viral RNA and effect enhanced immune responses to HBV show promise. Preclinical and clinical evaluation of drug candidates, as well as investigating use of treatment combinations, are encouraging. The field is poised at an interesting stage and indications are that reliably achieving functional cure from HBV infection is a tangible goal.