New Hepatitis C Drug Continues Curing In Clinical Trials

Microscopic view of hepatitis virus
Microscopic view of hepatitis virus. Hepatitis C is one type of hepatitis - a liver disease- caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). A new drug awaiting FDA approval seems to have high cure rates in clinical trials. Department of Veteran Affairs

Coming on the heels of a recent report indicating that the Hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir surpassed expectations, a Phase III clinical trial out of Weil Cornell Medical Center in New York City has shown that the result of using the drug cures most patients with two subtypes of the virus.

The study results published today in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that when combined with another antiviral drug, ribavirin, sofosbuvir was able to give a patient response rate of 93 percent for subtype 2 and 61 percent for subtype 3 of the Hepatitis C virus.  These two subtypes make up 25 percent of all Hepatitis C cases in the United States.

"The new sofosbuvir therapy offers a much-needed alternative to standard therapy with interferon, which can cause significant side effects for hepatitis C patients," says the study's lead investigator, Dr. Ira Jacobson, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

207 patients were treated with the combination therapy for three months, and were chosen because they were unresponsive to other treatment options such as interferon injection.

"We have dreamed for years of being able to eliminate interferon from our hepatitis C regimens and this study is one of several that are finally bringing us very close to realizing that goal," says Dr. Jacobson, who is also a gastroenterologist at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and medical director of the Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, a collaboration between Weill Cornell, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and The Rockefeller University.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve sofosbuvir, but four successful clinical trials being published at the same time in the New England Journal of Medicine should help.

There are an estimated four million Americans infected with Hepatitis C, more than the 1.2 million living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. 

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