Study suggests unprecedented 3-week hepatitis C cure

Yet another stunning victory in the drug battle against the liver-damaging hepatitis C virus (HCV) may be in the offing: A small study suggests it may be possible to cure some people of their infections in as few as 3 weeks.

Fresh on the heels of recent approvals of four new combinations of HCV drugs that clear infections of many different types of the virus in about 3 months, a team led by hepatologist George Lau of the Humanity & Healthy GI and Liver Centre in Hong Kong, China, has mixed and matched various compounds to see whether they could further shorten the route to a cure. Following 3 weeks of treatment, 18 HCV infected people given three different combinations of drugs met the standard definition of being cured—at 12 weeks after treatment began, they had no signs of HCV’s genetic material, RNA, in their blood on standard tests. The researchers plan to present this data publicly for the first time at a scientific conference known as The Liver Meeting.

Raymond Schinazi, a biochemist from Emory University in Atlanta who collaborated with Lau, acknowledges that this is only a pilot study and needs confirmation in a larger clinical trial. “But when you get 100%, it’s always statistically significant,” says Schinazi, who helped develop one of the new blockbuster HCV drugs, sofosbuvir, that was part of the combinations tried in the new study. Dr. Schinazi is also a faculty member of the MMG program.

Click here to view the full story in Science Magazine.  A related story is also featured in the Emory News Center.