Hepatitis C Trial Shows Amazing Results Against Chronic Liver Disease


A recent trial into Hepatitis C has produced some startling results that show immense promise into the treatment of the most debilitating symptom of the virus.

The trial was working on a new oral regimen for the treatment of liver damage in sufferers of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Volunteers were treated over a 6-month period with a course of therapy that comprised of the investigational product, sofosbuvir, alongside the licensed antiviral medication ribavirin.

The trial brought about some startling results- the treatment method was not just highly effective, it brought about a cure in a statistically significant proportion of the test subjects. Perhaps even just as important was the fact that the regimen was well tolerated in the patients, even in those with a history of unfavourable prognosis. Run by the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the NIH Clinical Centre, and using the Gilead-developed study drug, the phase II trial was run on 60 volunteers. Of these 60 volunteers, 50% were African-American which is vitally important as in the US, African-Americans make up 22% of the individuals with hepatitis C. African-American sufferers tend to have lower-cure rates than their caucasian counterparts and so their representation in this clinical research is highly necessary.

After 24 weeks from the end of the trial all of the individuals who had managed to successfully complete their treatment had been cured. As HCV does not integrate into human DNA, when it is gone from the bloodstream it is considered to be truly gone from the body. Similar results were found on a separate arm of the study which used a low-dose of the ribavirin.

Current treatment for HCV is tough on the patient and there is an urgent need for something less intrusive. More than 3 million Americans have chronic HCV and this virus will lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and the increased need for liver transplants. Standard treatment for HCV lasts up to a year and consists of a three-drug regimen. Patients have weekly injections of pegylated interferon alpha, as well as oral doses of ribavirin and a HCV protease inhibitor. This treatment is currently all we have to fight the disease but it has harsh side-effects, including depression, flu-like symptoms and amaemia. The success rate is also less than brilliant, especially in people have already reached latter-stage development.

It’s important to realise that the test subjects here were not easy ones; some of them were sufferers of severe liver damage and advanced cirrhosis. As such, the final published results of a 70% cure rate are startlingly positive.

Of course, further research is needed to ascertain a correct dosage of the drugs, as well as a regimen that uses the least possible amount of the most damaging drugs.

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