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Taking medication prophylactically


A meeting in Japan and the 40th anniversary of my first paper
Baruch Blumberg Physician
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I'm going to go to Japan. And there's a meeting there that is… that is focused on a anti-viral for hepatitis B. But the people who are funding this, which is a big drug company, who makes this stuff. It's a… it’s a pretty good, actually, it's fairly effective, the… the trials were impressive. But there… there's a group of these drugs that, very often, the virus becomes resistant. So in a way, the more you have, the more possibilities there are. And I think, one day, there'll, some kind of combination therapy will eventually emerge that, you know, put together, working on different parts of the pathology, pathogenesis cycle, or pathogenesis scheme, you will be able to really get quite a lot… so, quite a lot of control, and decrease the levels of… of virus.

[Q] Different antigenic loci from the same kind of virus, you mean, or different viruses?

The same virus, I mean, broadly speaking, the same virus. There, it turns out, you know, there isn't a big difference, there's some difference in the strains of the virus, in terms of treatment. There is. Some respond rather better, but it's not as striking as it is with some other things like papilloma virus, for example. Or even AIDS, you know, where some respond much better. Some of the varieties. So I…  but I think that, you know, there's a funny characteristic of hepatitis B; it doesn't lend itself to mutation very readily. It mutates far less than AIDS; I mean, a lot less, and a lot less than hepatitis C virus, too. And part of the reason is, it's got this somewhat strange, really constricted genome that's… that's… has two bands, you know. And it turns out, if you have a mutation in… in one locus, you'll also… you'll also mutate a second... at least one other locus at the same time, which may make it non-viable. So there's far less mutation. And as I said, it hasn't affected the vaccine, these, the vacs... so far, anyhow. So, and there hasn't been kind of runaway strains of the virus that you can't… that you can't… you know, you absolutely can't treat. Okay, so... but then they called and asked me if I'd come and talk there. And they said, well, you know, this is the 40th anniversary of your first paper, which was, they reminded me, was published in 1967. Well, you know, I knew about the paper, obviously, but I'd sort of forgotten, or if I did, I didn't notice it, so there's, it's going to be kind of associated with the 40th anniversary of the paper. Since I did some of my original field work in Japan, you know, I hope some of my old colleagues will be there.

American research physician Baruch Blumberg (1925-2011) was co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1976 along with D Carleton Gajdusek for their work on the origins and spread of infectious viral diseases that led to the discovery of the hepatitis B virus. Blumberg’s work covered many areas including clinical research, epidemiology, virology, genetics and anthropology.

Listeners: Rebecca Blanchard

Dr Rebecca Blanchard is Director of Clinical Pharmacology at Merck & Co., Inc. in Upper Gwynedd, Pennsylvania. Her education includes a BSc in Pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. While at Utah, she studied in the laboratories of Dr Raymond Galinsky and Dr Michael Franklin with an emphasis on drug metabolism pathways. After receiving her PhD, Dr Blanchard completed postdoctoral studies with Dr Richard Weinshilboum at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on human pharmacogenetics. While at Mayo, she cloned the human sulfotransferase gene SULT1A1 and identified and functionally characterized common genetic polymorphisms in the SULT1A1 gene. From 1998 to 2004 Dr Blanchard was an Assistant Professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. In 2005 she joined the Clinical Pharmacology Department at Merck & Co., Inc. where her work today continues in the early and late development of several novel drugs. At Merck, she has contributed as Clinical Pharmacology Representative on CGRP, Renin, Losartan, Lurasidone and TRPV1 programs and serves as chair of the TRPV1 development team. Dr Blanchard is also Co-chair of the Neurology Pharmacogenomics Working Group at Merck. Nationally, she has served the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics on the Strategic Task Force and the Board of Directors. Dr Blanchard has also served on NIH study sections, and several Foundation Scientific Advisory Boards.

Tags: Japan

Duration: 3 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 28 September 2009