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Oral Treatment Cures 90 Percent of Hep C Patients with Cirrhosis

Update Date: Apr 12, 2014 09:11 AM EDT

A new international study tested the effects of an investigational oral therapy on hepatitis C infections. The researchers found that 12 weeks of treatment helped cured the infection in more than 90 percent of the patients afflicted with cirrhosis, which is tissue scarring in the liver. This new treatment has the potential to change the well being of patients living with hepatitis C.

In this study, researchers from UT Medicine San Antonio and the Texas Liver Institute used a new type of treatment plan, which was interferon-free and contained numerous agents. Before this study, interferon was the only agent that was effective in treating patients with hepatitis C. Despite being effective, patients on interferon often relapsed. The therapy also caused many side effects.

The new treatment, on the other hand, was capable of curing 91.8 percent of the patients who took the pill for 12 weeks. For patients that took the pill for 24 weeks, 95.9 percent of them had no signs of the hepatitis C virus in their bloodstream. These patients were also virus-free 12 weeks after they ended their treatment.

"These are out-of-the-ballpark response rates, not on the same planet as interferon," lead author of the study, Dr. Fred Poordad, M.D., said. "The reason this study is so profound is because interferon is not tolerated nor is it safe in many people with cirrhosis. Many of the patients with cirrhosis in this study were not even eligible to be treated with interferon."

He added, "Patients with advanced liver disease can now be cured of their hepatitis with a very well-tolerated and short regimen."

The study involved 380 patients from 78 medical sites throughout the world. The study was supported by AbbVie and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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