New Hepatitis B Surface Antigen Test Helps Assess Treatment Response

Roche Diagnostics this week announced the launch of a new hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) test to help clinicians evaluate patient response to treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Reduction or clearance of HBsAg is one indicator of good response, along with decreased HBV DNA viral load.

Below is an edited excerpt from a Roche Diagnostics press release describing the new test.

New Test for Hepatitis B Provides More Tailored Solutions for Patients


Bangkok -- February 23, 2011 -- The new hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) quant test enables physicians to assess a patient’s response to chronic hepatitis B treatment

As chronic hepatitis B remains endemic in many parts of Asia, experts from across the region are meeting at the 21st Asian Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver (APASL) annual congress in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss advances in the management of this devastating disease, which is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.

One key advance is the availability of a new quantitative test for monitoring a patient’s response to hepatitis B therapy, launched during the congress by Roche Diagnostics. The test measures the amount of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), a marker on the surface of the hepatitis B virus, in a patient’s blood. This, in combination with HBV DNA testing, enables clinicians to provide tailored treatment approaches for chronic hepatitis B patients.

"Testing is important for the diagnosis and improved management of chronic hepatitis B. All too often there are either no symptoms until the liver is severely damaged or the early symptoms are ignored, allowing the disease to progress untreated with potentially fatal consequences," said Professor Teerha Piratvisuth, President of APASL, Director of the NKC Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Thailand, and President of Liver Society of Thailand. "This is a significant problem in Thailand where less than 30 percent of people with chronic hepatitis B are currently being treated and most do not even know they are infected."

Almost a third of the world’s population is, at some time, infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and approximately 350 million people (5%) are currently chronically infected. In Asia, up to 10 percent of the adult population is chronically infected with the disease. Every year, 25% to 45% of these HBV carriers die of HBV-related liver cirrhosis (permanent scarring) or liver cancer. Liver cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death, particularly in Asia.

Treatment for chronic hepatitis B aims for complete clearance of the HBsAg in the patient. Recent data has shown that HBsAg clearance is associated with reduced disease progression to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, and improved life expectancy as well as quality of life due to the immune control of the virus and remission of viral activity.

HBsAg quantitative testing represents a simple and reliable means of assessing how well the body’s own immune system is combating the hepatitis B virus. It allows clinicians to monitor and assess a patient’s response to pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) therapy, thereby confidently predict sustained treatment success early. This is particularly important as studies show that one in three respond to the PEG-IFN treatment. In addition, there is evidence that HBsAg levels in combination with HBV DNA levels, can be used to distinguish patients who do not require therapy (inactive carriers) from those who would benefit from treatment.

"We now have two complementary tests for monitoring chronic hepatitis B that, when used in combination, enables us to determine how well a patient is responding to treatment and to tailor it accordingly” said Professor Henry Chan, Professor of Medicine, Director of Cheng Suen Man Shook Centre for Hepatitis Research and Director of Centre for Liver Health of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is a real advance in the management of chronic hepatitis B as it enables us to respond quicker than we previously could and, by doing so, reduce the chance of disease progression."

Commenting on the advance, Mr. Pichetpong Srisuwankul, General Manager of Roche Diagnostics Thailand said; “Given the millions of lives affected by hepatitis B each year, Roche is proud to be able to make a real difference in tackling all aspects of managing the disease; from initial diagnosis, through to treatment and ongoing treatment monitoring. Furthermore, this is an area where, once again, Roche is facilitating healthcare professionals in providing tailored treatments to individual patients to significantly improve their health and wellbeing, a demonstration of Roche leading in Personalized Healthcare."

About the Elecsys HBsAg II Quant Immunoassay

What is the Elecsys HBsAg II quant immunoassay?

What is the role of HBsAg testing?

What are the advantages of the Elecsys® HBsAg II quant immunoassay?

The Elecsys HBsAg II quant immunoassay is optimized for clinical decision making and has the following advantages:

About Roche

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world’s largest biotech company with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Roche is also the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics, tissue-based cancer diagnostics and a pioneer in diabetes management. Roche’s personalised healthcare strategy aims at providing medicines and diagnostic tools that enable tangible improvements in the health, quality of life and survival of patients. In 2010, Roche had over 80,000 employees worldwide and invested over 9 billion Swiss francs in R&D. The Group posted sales of 47.5 billion Swiss francs. Genentech, United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche has a majority stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information:


Roche Diagnostics. New Test for Hepatitis B Provides More Tailored Solutions for Patients. Press release. February 23, 2011.