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New Anti-Viral Drug Shows Promise for Dramatic Improvement in Hepatitis C Treatment

Posted Aug 10 2010 2:58pm

Adding a direct acting anti-viral drug to the standard treatment regimen for hepatitis C significantly increases the cure rate in the most difficult to treat patients, according to a research report published Monday in the online edition of the journal The Lancet.

The research team, led by Paul Kwo, M.D., of Indiana University School of Medicine, reported that adding the drug nearly doubled the treatment’s effectiveness when given for 48 weeks in one treatment arm of the study.

An estimated 3.2 million Americans and 170 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis C virus, but many do not know it. In the United States, 70 percent of affected individuals are infected with genotype 1 hepatitis C, the most difficult to treat. Although there may be no symptoms for years, long-term infection can cause cirrhosis and the disease is a leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplantation. Hepatitis C infections occur mainly through transmission of infected blood, such as via injection drug use, and there is no vaccine.

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