PHILADELPHIA — In continuing research reporting groundbreaking results in the treatment of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), Penn Medicine and an international team of researchers showed a new combination drug therapy is effective in curing the disease in up to 99.5 percent of patients using a drug cocktail that includes three new directly acting anti-viral drugs, ritonavir boosted protease inhibitor ( 450/r)/ombitasvir and dasabuvir with and without ribavirin, a drug currently used in HCV treatment.
The findings, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, are more great news for the more than three million Americans and more than 170 million people worldwide with HCV.
The new drugs allow chronic hepatitis C to be treated in a manner that is well tolerated, yet highly effective. The international research team, led by the Medical University of Vienna (Austria) studied 419 patients with genotype 1b infection and found that with only 12 weeks of treatment with the protease inhibitor ABT-450/r, Ombitasvir and Dasubavir, 99.5 percent of patients were cured when combined with ribavirin and 99 percent without ribavirin.
In addition, the group looked at the same drug regimen in patients with genotype 1a infection and found equally astounding results, though they did show a greater need for ribavirin as part of the treatment regimen, with 97 percent of patients who took ribavirin and 90 percent in the group not receiving ribavirin effectively cured of their disease.
Patients in both groups were all in the early stages of the disease—before the development of cirrhosis or significant complications.
These findings represent the latest in a wealth of recent data showing that HCV can be effectively cured. Findings published in April 2014 in NEJM showed that between 94 and 99 percent of HCV cases of previously untreated and those who failed prior HCV treatment, were cured of the disease using the antiviral drugs ledipasvir and sofosbuvir.
Current therapies that include Ribavirin and the immunemodulator interferon come with considerable side effects, which these new therapies eliminate.
“These results showed once again, that HCV can be cured,” says K. Rajender Reddy, MD, professor of Medicine and medical director of Hepatology/Transplantation Hepatology at Penn Medicine and senior author on the paper. Penn has served as the regional leader in this new research and findings published earlier this year. “In the not too distant future, HCV will be a disease of the past, and many patients given a second chance and a brand new life. It’s amazing success.”
For more information see the University of Vienna’s news release
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