Researchers Identified Shorter and Simpler Alternative Treatment for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is one of very frequent blood-borne infections globally, with roughly 120-150 million individuals developing a serious type of the infection. Now, two new studies released in The Lancet reveal new oral drug regimens that scientists say could treat even the severe-to-cure form of the disease and raise treatment uptake.

In recent studies, researchers uncover that new drug regimens applying direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents could improve treatment uptake for hepatitis C, and even enhance its performance.

Hepatitis C is an infectious disease that leads to inflammation of the liver. It is mainly spread via contact with the blood of an individual infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The disease can result in a serious form of the infection, where signs take place in the initial 6 months after infection. However, 55-85% of people attacked with HCV go on to develop serious infection, which can result in liver diseases, like as cirrhosis or liver cancer.

With respect to the WHO, 300-500,000 people die every year from hepatitis C-associated liver diseases. In the U.S. alone, the amount of people who develop liver cancer or liver malfunction as a outcome of the infection is predicted to treble by 2030, because of low treatment rates.

The scientists of these recent researches wished to see whether they could develop a new drug regimen that could enhance treatment uptake. They targeted on HCV genotype 1 – very common kind in the US, Europe, North Asia, Australia and South America.

Asunaprevir and daclatasvir regimen ‘displays massive enhancement on standard treatments’

The conventional care for chronic HCV genotype 1 has been a combo of 3 antiviral drugs; pegylated interferon (PEG), ribavirin (RBV) and a protease inhibitor. These 3 drugs work collectively to avoid the virus replication and assist boost immune system response to be able to remove the virus.

But although these kinds of therapy can be effective, its regimen can be difficult to follow. Some sufferers are needed to administer drugs by injection along with take up to 18 tablets a day. This can continue for up to a year. In add-on, the therapy can lead to severe side effects, such as anemia and depression. All of these aspects can deter sufferers from taking up the treatment.

In the first research – lead by Prof. Michael Manns from Hannover Medical School, the team viewed at the effectiveness of two direct acting antiviral (DAA) agents – daclatasvir and asunaprevir- among 645 sufferers with HCV genotype 1b.

The sufferers were allocated to take each drug orally for 6 months. The scientists also allocated an additional 102 sufferers with the infection to obtain placebos.

With respect to the team, the therapy was a success. They report that 90% of sufferers who were earlier untreated, and 82% of sufferers who were unsuccessfully treated with conventional regimens or who were intolerant of them, were treated of infection.

Leaving comments on their results, Prof. Manns says:

“The effectiveness and safety of 24 weeks of daclatasvir plus asunaprevir shows a massive enhancement on the first generation of protease inhibitor-dependent triple treatments for HCV genotype 1b infection.

This new all oral interferon and ribavirin-free combo could offer a more successful, safer, shorter, and easier treatment alternative for those traditionally difficult-to-cure sufferers with cirrhosis or those who have unsuccessful to react to existing therapies.”

Around 93% of sufferers cured’ by using sofosbuvir and simeprevir without ribavirin

In the 2nd research, lead by Prof. Eric Lawitz of the Texas Liver Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the study team involved 167 sufferers who had either HCV genotype 1a or 1b.

Sufferers were randomly allocated to obtain an oral combination of sofosbuvir and simeprevir daily once, with or without ribavirin, for either 12 or 24 weeks.

Following 12 weeks, Prof. Lawitz and co-workers identified 93% of sufferers who took sofosbuvir and simeprevir without ribavirin – which includes those with cirrhosis and those who were earlier un-responsive to standard therapy – were cured of infection. No noticeable HCV was identified in their blood 3 months after treatment stopped.

Prof. Lawitz thinks these results show promise in new therapy options for sufferers with HCV genotype 1, and he states that

As nearly 75% of all sufferers with HCV infection live in economically deprived areas of Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe the consideration must be given to reducing costs in these areas. Elimination of HCV infection globally will only be possible through universal accessibility to HCV testing and new DAA regimens.”