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New Pill-Only Cure to Replace Traditional Hepatitis Treatment

Update Date: Oct 17, 2014 03:22 PM EDT

Hepatitis C infections can now be cured by pill-only regimens, according to a new study.

Scientists believe that two new pill-only regimens could become the standard treatment for patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C infection.

"These new pill-only regimens have the potential to offer more effective, safer and faster virus eradication than current therapies, even in traditionally hard-to-cure patients," Professor Michael P. Manns from Hannover Medical School in Germany said in a news release. "We hope that a pill-only regimen will encourage more people to come forward and accept treatment so we can one day eradicate this deadly virus."

Researchers note that the standard treatment for chronic HCV genotype 1 infection involved a combination of drugs, which produced severe side effects, and involved injection and tablet regimens that lasted for up to a year.

"These treatment regimens, although effective, are difficult to manage and poorly tolerated by many patients, and some clinicians won't even use them," says Prof. Manns. "We desperately need simpler treatment regimens that are highly effective, that can be used in more patients, and that do not cause such severe toxicity."

Researchers found the NS3 protease inhibitor twice daily plus once-daily NS5A replication complex inhibitor cured 90 percent of previously untreated patients and 82 percent of those who had failed to respond to, or could not tolerate, their previous treatment.

The other pill-regimen S3/4A protease inhibitor once daily plus a NS5B polymerase inhibitor once daily with or without ribavirin cured 93 percent of all patients, with less than 2 percent reporting serious side effects.

"This is a vast improvement over standard triple therapy, with efficacy observed across the board - even in patients with liver cirrhosis and those who have failed other treatments," said Manns. "The combination treatment was also well tolerated by most patients."

"The results from these two studies suggest that interferon- and ribavirin- based treatment for chronic HCV infection may soon become a thing of the past," Manns concluded. "With several more pill only regimens having also been reported this year, this is a key moment in the history of HCV treatment and represents an important step towards universally effective, needle-free treatments for HCV."3,4,5.

The latest findings will be presented at the 22nd United European Gastroenterology Week (UEG Week 2014) in Vienna, Austria.

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