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New Drug for Hepatitis C Promises Results

Update Date: Mar 28, 2013 10:22 AM EDT

For years doctors have been treating the virus, hepatitis C with more and more success. With the current kinds of medication used to fight the virus, roughly 70 percent of hepatitis C patients get cured. However, the kinds of drugs on the market have serious side effects that can lead to liver failure or cancer.  Therefore, doctors and researchers have been persistent in their search for an alternative treatment option that would lower the risks for complications and side effects. According to a very new study, a new type of drug showed promising effects in treating hepatitis C with minimal side effects.

In a study headed by Dr. Harry Janssen and colleagues from the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, the researchers tested a new drug on 27 people, with nine people receiving a placebo. The drug is called miravirsen and it works completely differently from current antivirals and antibiotics. The drug is known as an RNA inference drug (RNAi), which uses fragments of RNA in attacking the diseased cells. The RNA in the drug acts like sponges that soak up the RNA molecules from the cancer cells, and without the RNA molecules, these diseased cells cannot survive. Of the 27 people who received this injection treatment, four of the nine people who got the highest dosages were completely free of hepatitis C after five injections. All participants received the drug for one month.

Although this drug trial is extremely small and short, the researchers and other medical professionals believe that the results promise a good treatment option within the near future for hepatitis C and even other diseases, such as cancer. The fact that the doctors in this study were able to successfully show that an RNAi drug could be effective opens up more research for this type of drug. For years, pharmaceutical companies and researchers have tried to manufacture RNAi drugs because they believed that this type of drug could be more effective in treating diseases. However, several of these companies have given up on the lengthy and costly journey. In 2010, two huge companies, Roche and Novartis ended their RNAi programs. Some companies continued their quest in finding an RNAi drug treatment and in January of this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first ever RNAi drug, Kynamro, which treats high cholesterol.

With the progress made in RNAi drugs, doctors and researchers are optimistic that miravirsen could soon be a viable treatment option. So far, the drug can be used to treat all typed of hepatitis C with very little side effects. However, a larger study and more research need to be done.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

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