Barcelona, Spain, Thursday 19 April 2012: New data presented at the International Liver Congress 2012 shows consolidation of the interferon-free (IFN) revolution in HCV treatment. The much anticipated data from a number of clinical trials confirm that combinations of antivirals offer the hope of shorter, more effective treatment with fewer side effects.(1,2,3,4,5,6)
The following new studies cover the treatment of HCV patients with genotypes (GT) 1, 2 or 3, who were administered ribavirin (RBV) - without IFN - and either one or two other drugs: direct-acting antivirals - HCV nucleotide analogues, HCV protease inhibitors, non-nucleoside RNA polymerase inhibitors - or host-targeting antivirals - cyclophilin A inhibitor.
PROTON & ELECTRON
The combination of PegIFN-α and ribavirin (RBV) is the current standard of care for chronic HCV(7), but is associated with a number of side effects including flu-like symptoms, psychiatric manifestations, autoimmune reactions, and hematologic toxicities.(8,9) Between 20-40% of patients require a dose reduction or temporary interruption in their PegIFN-α and ribavirin (RBV) treatment(10) and in 10-14% of patients, side effects are so severe that treatment must be discontinued.(8,9)
However, studies have shown that achieving a virologic response in chronic HCV is much more dependent on the dose of IFN-α(11)/PegIFN-α(12,13,14) than RBV(15,16,17,11,18). As such, PegIFN-α free therapy is highly anticipated by healthcare professionals and patients alike.
EASL's Secretary General Professor Mark Thursz commented on the exciting new data being showcased at the congress: "In the future, patients can look forward to all oral treatment regimens with high success rates and low side effects. Furthermore, there is a large cohort of patients with more advanced liver disease who will now be able to access treatment that was previously impossible due to the side effects of Interferon-alpha. Over the last five years we have seen an evolution in HCV treatment, with direct antivirals used in combination with Pegylated Interferon and Ribavirin. Interferon-free regimes truly represent a revolution in treatment."
Separate data presented at the congress may provide a further option. New results from a phase IIb study(19) show a different form of interferon - pegylated Interferon-lambda (PegIFN-λ) - administered with RBV for 24 weeks in HCV GT2 & 3 patients gives comparable SVR24 (undetectable HCV RNA levels 24 weeks after treatment) to PegIFN-α-2a and RBV, but with fewer side effects (musculoskeletal and flu-like symptoms, hematologic toxicity) and dose modifications for PegIFN or RBV.
Professor Thursz commented: "It remains possible that a number of patients will still need interferon based therapy for their HCV infection. Interferon-lambda, with a better side effect profile, looks like an excellent option in this group of patients, who are likely to have more advanced disease."
|Contact: Travis Taylor|
European Association for the Study of the Liver