Every year, half a million people around the world catch hepatitis B, a disease that affects the liver.
The virus has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the world and is already endemic in some parts of China and southern Africa.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through the blood and other infected body fluids but its more infectious than HIV and is an extremely stubborn disease that has proven resistant to most treatments.
That’s until in 2005 when French scientist Gilles Gosselin and his team in Montpellier developed a drug that is more effective than any of its kind.
The drug is based on a molecule called Telbivudine, which has been on the market since 2006.
The drug is not a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B but a therapy used when the virus is already active in the patient. Telbivudine prevents the disease spreading throughout the body. Gosselin and his team have been working to isolate this molecule for 10 years.