Antiviral treatment may cure hepatitis C in 6 weeks

Berlin: Scientists have found that a direct-acting antiviral treatment may cure acute hepatitis C over a short duration of six weeks.

In a new study, researchers found that all patients with acute hepatitis C who were given the combination of the drugs sofosbuvir and ledipasvir over a duration of six weeks had undetectable hepatitis C virus (HCV) after a 12 week follow-up.

Those infected with HCV usually develop acute Hepatitis C, which spontaneously clears in 10 to 50 per cent of infected persons.

Early diagnosis of HCV infection is rare and the disease may go unnoticed until patients have already developed serious liver damage, researchers said.

Combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir is one possible regimen for treatment of patients with chronic HCV. Sustained virologic response (SVR) is greater than 95 per cent with a 12-week course of this treatment.

“Given the high cost of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, and the associated side effects that occur during treatment, we set out to assess whether shortened treatment duration could be an effective option for acute Hepatitis C patients,” said Katja Deterding from Hannover Medical School in Germany.

“Our research demonstrates that not only is the combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir safe, well tolerated and effective in acute HCV genotype 1 patients who have severe liver disease with very high liver enzymes, but a shorter treatment duration does not appear to hinder efficacy,” said Heiner Wedemeyer, professor at Hannover Medical School.

The study included 20 patients. Risk factors of HCV infection among the study members included sexual transmission, medical procedures/needle stick injury, drug use, and nail treatment complications. The causes were unspecified for two patients.

All 20 patients completed six weeks of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir without ribavirin. At the 12 week follow up, all 20 patients had undetectable HCV. Fatigue was the most frequent side effect reported by study members.