Scientists find a way to cure hepatitis C with 6 weeks of treatment

Medical researchers have claimed that an investigational combination of drugs can effectively treat chronic hepatitis C cases. Using the direct-acting antiviral agents used in the experimental treatment, the research team reported over 90 percent success rate for HCV patients. For the current study, patients were given a combinational single pill per day.

The study was led by Eric Lawitz, MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Lawitz shared the results of his study at the International Liver Congress. The therapy has shown amazing results within six weeks for hepatitis C patients. The research team used a combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir for six weeks on Hepatitis C patients who underwent trial. The team didn’t detect any HCV during the 12-week follow up.

Hepatitis C has been a major research segment over the past few years. Gilead Sciences developed an effective treatment for Hepatitis C with its Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) pill, which has helped Gilead register billions of dollars in revenue. Sovaldi is quite expensive in the United States and other developed countries and Gilead has been criticized for keeping high treatment cost for U.S. Hepatitis C patients.

Dr. Lawitz informed that during a small phase II trial, their team has registered impressive results for Hepatitis C patients. The research team will not proceed with phase III trials. Study results were presented at the International Liver Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The current study involved 49 patients with genotype 1 HCV who had previously been treated for at least 6 weeks with any of the direct-acting agents. These patients couldn’t be cured with earlier treatment options. At the end of 12 weeks after the treatment with combination drug, these patients had no detectable HCV RNA.

Dr. Lawitz said, “The question is what to do we do with the few patients who do fail. The answer is likely to be ‘salvage’ with new combinations of drugs, such as the one he presented here. It’s a small study but it’s the groundwork for an evolving field”

Study co-author Katja Deterding from Hannover Medical School said, “Given the high cost of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, and the associated side effects that occur during treatment, we set out to assess whether shortened treatment duration could be an effective option for acute Hepatitis C patients.”

Dr. Lawitz added, “When we have patients who fail we need salvage options [that can] cure everyone we see, with the right armamentarium of agents.”

The research demonstrates that not only is the combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir safe, well tolerated and effective in acute HCV genotype 1 patients who have severe liver disease with very high liver enzymes, but a shorter treatment duration does not appear to hinder efficacy.

“These exciting findings open up short and cost-effective treatment options that could prevent the spread of HCV in high risk populations,” said Professor Frank Tacke, EASL Governing Board member. “We look forward to seeing this pilot study extended so the findings can be validated and then hopefully used as a tool to change clinical practice for the better.”

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