Researcher Announced Cure for Hepatitis C

May 22, 2007

The use of peginterferon alone, or in combination with ribavirin, points to a cure for hepatitis C, the leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for liver transplant, a Virginia Commonwealth University researcher said today.

Mitchell Shiffman, M.D., professor in the VCU School of Medicine, and chief of hepatology and medical director of the Liver Transplant Program at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, is one of the lead investigators in the study, which was presented at the 38th annual Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, D.C. VCU was among about 40 sites worldwide studying pegylated interferon alfa-2a, manufactured by Roche Inc.

Nearly all -- 99 percent – of patients with hepatitis C who were treated successfully with peginterferon alone, or in combination with ribavirin, had no detectable virus up to seven years later. Researchers say this data validates the use of the word "cure" when describing hepatitis C treatment as successful treatment is defined as having undetectable hepatitis C virus in the blood six months following treatment.

"We at VCU are encouraged by this data because it is rare in the treatment of life-threatening viral diseases that we can tell patients they may be cured," Shiffman said. "In hepatitis C today, we are able to help some patients achieve an outcome that effectively enables them to put their disease behind them."

The results are based on a long-term follow-up study designed to determine if the virus re-emerges in patients who have achieved treatment success. The study reviewed 997 patients, either mono-infected with chronic HCV or co-infected HCV and HIV, who achieved a sustained viral response (SVR) following treatment with either Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a) monotherapy or combination therapy with Pegasys and ribavirin.

After successful treatment, researchers monitored serum levels of HCV once a year for an average of 4.1 years (range 0.4 to 7 years). Of the 997 patients, 989 maintained undetectable levels of HCV. The remaining eight patients tested positive for HCV at an average of two years following treatment completion. The study found that these eight patients exhibited no consistency in age, gender or HCV genotype, and it has not yet been determined if these patients experienced a relapse or if they were re-infected with HCV.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease of the liver and a leading cause of cirrhosis, liver cancer and the need for liver transplants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 4.1 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis C, and 3.2 million are chronically infected. The number of new infections per year declined from an average of 240,000 in the 1980s to about 26,000 in 2004, the latest year for which statistics are available. The CDC estimates the number of hepatitis C-related deaths could increase to 38,000 annually by the year 2010, surpassing annual HIV/AIDS deaths.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Explore further: Liberia's Sirleaf sees signs of Ebola 'stabilisation'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Most detailed picture ever of key part of hepatitis C

Nov 28, 2013

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have determined the most detailed picture yet of a crucial part of the hepatitis C virus, which the virus uses to infect liver cells. The new data reveal ...

SlipChip counts molecules with chemistry and a cell phone

Nov 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —In developing nations, rural areas, and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative ...

Target 'super-spreaders' to stop hepatitis C

Jan 31, 2013

Each intravenous drug user contracting Hepatitis C is likely to infect around 20 other people with the virus, half of these transmissions occurring in the first two years after the user is first infected, a new study estimates.

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

11 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

12 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

12 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

12 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

User comments : 0