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Author Topic: New hepatitis C treatment ‘is effective’  (Read 1753 times)

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Offline freewillie99

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  • Posts: 326
New hepatitis C treatment ‘is effective’
« on: August 09, 2010, 04:55:39 PM »
Thought this sounded promising.


New hepatitis C treatment ‘is effective’

Study finds that a triple-cocktail of drugs can offer people with hepatitis C a much better chance of becoming virus-free

By Tara Foss
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

9th August 2010 - In a worldwide study, researchers found that adding a new type of antiviral drug to the standard hepatitis C treatment can significantly increase response rates to the regimen.

Chronic hepatitis C affects over 170 million people worldwide, and hepatitis C-induced cirrhosis is the most common reason for liver transplants; it is also a risk factor for liver cancer. Until now, treatment consisted of therapies to stimulate the immune system and stop viral replication by non-specific means.

New treatment

This new treatment regimen has the possibility to help almost twice the number of people as the current standard treatment because better sustained virological response (SVR) rates - a measurement of hepatitis C virus in the body - mean reduced liver disease.

Led by Dr Paul Kwo from Indiana University School of Medicine, researchers from the US and Canada found that adding boceprevir (an antiviral drug that inhibits the proteins essential for hepatitis C virus to reproduce) to peginterferon and ribavirin (the standard treatment) can double the rate of SVR. Previous SVR rates were under 50%. This new treatment can produce SVR rates of up to 75% after 48 weeks of treatment.

The study, called SPRINT-1, is split into two parts. The first part researchers tested the safety and efficacy of boceprevir plus the standard treatment, and in the second part considered the possibility of using a lower dose of ribavirin.

The use of the antiviral drug for up to 48 weeks is safe and effective at increasing SVR. However, the study showed that lower doses of ribavirin markedly reduced the effectiveness of the three-drug treatment. 

Researchers concluded that the current treatment is not as successful as treatment with the new “cocktail” of drugs. The people in the most successful group were given peginterferon and ribavirin for four weeks to interfere with virus copying, which helps to reduce the risk of drug-resistant viruses. That group then received the triple combination of drugs for the next 44 weeks.

In a statement, the authors say that the results of this trial have shown that an optimum dose of boceprevir plus the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C, “significantly increased SVR in both 28-week and 48-week regimens” compared with the control group taking only peginterferon and ribavirin.

They also “recorded increased response rates in difficult-to-treat groups, including black participants and those with cirrhosis”.

More research needed

As would be expected with a study of this type, other researchers are asking for further clarification. In a comment published simultaneously, Drs Laura Milazzo and Spinello Antinori from the University of Milan asked if this new regimen could eradicate the hepatitis C virus to allow for peginterferon- and ribavirin-free treatment. They also questioned the SPRINT-1 researchers about drug interactions and the role that genetics play in treatment response.

It is expected that future treatments will concentrate on new ways to set bespoke antiviral strategies for people infected with hepatitis C virus. The new generation of antiviral drugs are, according to researchers, “a step forward”.
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