New Hope for Hepatitis C Sufferers
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09 April 2010
Telaprevir, a protease inhibitor, combined with standard hepatitis C treatment, cures a significantly higher number of difficult–to–treat patients than standard treatment alone, a new study has found.
The study has been published in the April issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
To reach the conclusion, a member of the international research team, Adrian Di Bisceglie, M.D., chair and professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University, studied the effects of the protease inhibitor, telaprevir, one of a new class of antiviral drugs.
“Hepatitis C remains a major public health problem. Although the number of new cases is decreasing, we have a large number of individuals with chronic hepatitis who remain at risk of progressive liver disease,” said Di Bisceglie. “Current therapies only ‘cure’ about half of those with the virus, so we desperately need new treatments for those for whom current therapy has failed.
“Overall, in this group of patients whose hepatitis C was not eliminated in previous treatments, we successfully treated and eliminated hepatitis C for over 50 percent with the addition of telaprevir. In particular, for those who had shown no response at all to previous treatment (a group that is especially hard to treat), the addition of telaprevir eliminated hepatitis C for 40 percent.”
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus, transmitted by contact with blood, and may initially be asymptomatic. For patients who develop a chronic hepatitis C infection, inflammation of the liver may develop, leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), as well as other complications including liver cancer and death.