J Hepatol. 2012;56 Suppl:S112-22.
Zoulim F, Locarnini S.
INSERM, U1052, Cancer Research Center of Lyon, 69003 Lyon, France; Université de Lyon, 69003 Lyon, France; Hospices Civils de Lyon, Hepatology Department, 69004 Lyon, France; Institut Universitaire de France.
Antiviral therapy of chronic hepatitis B remains a clinical challenge. The primary goal of therapy is to prevent liver disease progression. Because of the mechanism of viral persistence in infected hepatocytes, long-term antiviral therapy is needed in the majority of patients. Incomplete viral suppression and emergence of drug resistance is a major concern. The correct choice of a first-line potent therapy to achieve sustained long-term suppression of viral replication provides the best chance of preventing treatment failure and drug resistance. Clinical studies have demonstrated that drugs with a high barrier to resistance, such as entecavir and tenofovir, have significantly lower rates of resistance when compared with those with a low barrier to resistance such as lamivudine, adefovir, or telbivudine. Management of treatment failure requires a precise clinical and accurate virologic monitoring as well as an early treatment intervention with appropriate complementary drugs with respect to their cross-resistance profile. Long-term surveillance for treatment efficacy and possible emergence of drug resistance is necessary for those patients who have been sequentially treated with multiple antivirals. Finally, the identification of novel treatment targets remains a major research challenge to improve the efficacy of current antiviral therapy.