Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne viral infection in the U.S., affecting more than 4-million people. The deadly disease can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.
In today's Medical Moment, how a new era of hepatitis c drugs could cure the disease, without side effects.
For Linda Cornwall gardening is a creative release. But Linda never would have imagined the viral seed that had taken root inside of her. Despite having no risk factors, she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
"I was shocked to say the least," says Linda Cornwell.
The standard treatment is injections of interferon. It's an immune stimulant that can lead to severe anemia and rash.
"The risk was worse than the disease," says Linda.
Now a new class of interferon-free drugs, known as direct acting anti-virals could treat Hepatitis C without the side effects.
Doctor Paul Thuluvath says the different DAA combinations are in phase 2 and phase 3 trials.
"Most likely it will end up with two drugs combined into one pill,” says Paul J. Thuluvath, M.D., from Mercy Medical Center. “So they'll take one pill a day for three months. We will cure 95 percent of Hepatitis C."
After taking part in one of the trials, Linda has good news.
"I just found out today I'm still undetectable,” says Linda. “After three months off the medication. And I had no side effects, absolutely none."
New hope for a disease once thought incurable.
The new drugs could be on the market by 2015.
Because people with Hepatitis C can sometimes take decades to show symptoms, about 75-percent of those with the disease don't know they have it, and most of them are baby boomers.
New CDC guidelines recommend anyone born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested, even if you have no known risk factors.
TOPIC: Curing Hepatitis C
REPORT: MB# 3652
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms. In fact, most people don't know they have the hepatitis C infection until liver damage shows up, decades later, during routine medical tests. Every year, 3-4 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 150 million people are chronically infected and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. More than 350,000 people die from hepatitis C-related liver diseases every year. (SOURCE: www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c; www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets)
TRANSMISSION: The hepatitis C virus is most commonly transmitted through exposure to infectious blood. It may also be transmitted through sex with an infected person or sharing personal items contaminated with infectious blood, but these are less common. Hepatitis C is not spread through breast milk, food or water or by casual contact such as hugging, kissing and sharing food or drinks with an infected person. (SOURCE: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets)
LATEST MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: Combination antiviral therapy with interferon and ribavirin has been the mainstay of hepatitis C treatment. Unfortunately, interferon is not widely available globally and it is not always well tolerated. The Holy Grail for hepatitis C researchers has been to discover new drugs that work better and that work without negative side effects. Dozens of drug companies and hundreds of research scientists have been working on this for more than a decade. Now, the approval of two hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitors by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in --boceprevir and telaprevir--marked the start of a new chapter in hepatitis C treatment. However, the story of hepatitis C treatment will not end here. Several new drugs are being developed for all strains of HCV; many may be approved in the next few years, making new treatment regimens available for patients. (SOURCE: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/; www.ft.com/cms; www.hepatitis.va.gov)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Mercy Medical Center
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