Innogenetics NV, Industriepark Zwijnaarde, Belgium
Serological markers are key elements in diagnosing acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and determining its possible evolution towards chronicity. Once treatment of chronic HBV is initiated with approved anti-hepadnaviral agents, such as lamivudine, interferon-alpha, or adefovir dipivoxil, the measurement of HBV DNA in serum can not only help monitor treatment efficacy but also indicates breakthrough infection should drug resistance emerge. Advances in the molecular diagnosis of drug resistance using highly sensitive methodologies such as DNA hybridization assays can further pinpoint the type of mutation responsible and, more importantly, detect upcoming viral resistance at an early stage when the variant represents only a minor fraction of the total viral population. Such new tools are especially relevant for patients at high risk for disease progression or acute exacerbation. Recent diagnostic developments including HBV genotyping and precore/core promoter assays that could well play important future roles in HBV patient management are also reviewed.
Keywords: Molecular Diagnosis, HBV Infection, Drug Resistance