Several new and highly effective oral treatments to address different types of hepatitis C have been approved in the last few years. However, two specific groups of hepatitis patients have not benefited from these novel treatments: individuals with hepatitis C suffering from advanced liver disease and individuals that received a liver transplant and saw their advanced liver disease return due to hepatitis C.
In response to this, Fred Poordad, chief of hematology and professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, said: “The problem for these patients is that unless the hepatitis C is cured, the virus continues circulating in their blood infecting the new liver, usually within a few months of transplant. One-third of them have cirrhosis again within five years.”
“This puts these patients back at high risk of dying from chronic hepatitis C or liver disease,” continued Poordad, who is also the principal investigator of the HVC-focused ALLY-1 research project and who presented the study’s results on April 25 during The International Liver Congress of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in Vienna, Austria.
A Phase III clinical trial assessed a 12-week course of a new drug, daclatasvir, in combination with ribavirin and sofosbuvir to address patients suffering with chronic hepatitis C. The participants accepted into the trial where those who had a liver transplant and then had hepatitis C again or had hepatitis C and advanced cirrhosis.
The results revealed a 94 percent overall cure rate for individuals with a liver transplant and returning hepatitis C, and an 83 percent overall cure rate for those with advanced cirrhosis. Further, 95 percent of post-transplant genotype 1 patients and 82 percent of genotype 1 patients with advanced cirrhosis were cured after 12 weeks of treatment. Individuals with different genotypes [subgroups or strains] of the disease who were also enrolled in the trial registered benefits from the therapy as well.
“Transplant patients take a variety of medications to prevent organ rejection that can complicate the treatment of hepatitis C. In ALLY-1, we saw no drug-to-drug interactions between transplant and hepatitis C therapies and no need to make close adjustments to patients’ transplant-related drugs while they received the hepatitis C regimen,” noted Poordad.
Estimates from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 3.2 million Americans suffer from chronic hepatitis C and between 70 and 80 percent do not show symptoms. However, this is a concerning disease that can cause liver failure, liver damage, liver cancer and ultimately death.