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New drug against hepatitis C is being investigated

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New drug against hepatitis C is being investigated

Researchers are investigating a new drug to treat hepatitis C virus,  a type of hepatitis that is most commonly associated with cirrhosis and liver cancer. Clinical studies so far show that miravirsen decreases viral load of patients infected with C virus. In addition, it appears that the risk of resistance to treatment is much lower unlike other medications used to treat hepatitis C.

However it must be said that more studies need to be done in order that this drug become part of the standard treatment of hepatitis C virus. The mechanism of action of this drug is inhibition of virus C replication. In a small phase 2 clinical trial, it has been demonstrated that miravirsen used in the highest dose, decreased viral load of approximately 500 times. It was also showed that patients taking miravirsen have not developed resistance to treatment, unlike others drugs that are used in managing hepatitis C.

Dr. Judy Lieberman, chairwoman of cellular and molecular medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, said this is the first real trial and the results are encouraging. She added that what seems interesting is that now there seems to be no resistance to treatment.


Hepatitis C

The study, led by Dr. Harry Janssen, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, included 36 patients who were divided into 4 groups. The first three groups received miravirsen in different doses (3 mg, 5 mg or 7 mg / kg) and the fourth group received placebo for 29 days. It was found that in patients who received the highest dose of drug viral load decreased 500 times and that in 4 of 9 patients the viral load was beyond the detectable limits. Regarding side effects, there were no significant toxic effects except for a local reactions at the injection site and a slight increase in liver enzymes.

Statistics show that hepatitis C affects approximately 170 million people worldwide, but the number of those infected may be much greater because the infection has an asymptomatic period. The virus C infection is transmitted through needles and blood transfusions, unprotected sex, etc., and patients may be a good while asymptomatic or may present asthenia, fatigue, bloating, loss of appetite etc.. The risk that a patient with hepatitis C will result in cirrhosis and liver cancer is quite high, this is why treatment is essential. However, Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y, said: “It’s a novel concept, but it’s only 36 patients and a phase 2 study. It’s impressive that their viral loads came down, but most suffered a recurrence of the virus.”