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Novel therapy combinations gain ground in treating hepatitis

ke hepatitis, symptoms have a tendency to fluctuate in severity. As a result, researchers are finding that the diseases may react more successfully to a longer duration of therapy. In this study, researchers at the University of Tuebingen in Germany compared two combination therapies for an extended treatment period of 72 weeks, compared to the current standard of 48 weeks, in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Previous studies have shown that with 48 weeks of therapy, relapse rates are near 20 to 30 percent, but with an extended duration of 72 weeks, rates may be reduced. The research team compared the efficacy of daily doses of CIFN (consensus interferon) plus ribavirin (RBV) versus pegIFN (pegylated interferon alfa 2a) plus RBV for 72 weeks in patients with a prior relapse to 48 weeks of treatment. A total of 81 patients were treated with either CIFN or with pegIFN a2a for 72 weeks, both in combination with RBV.

After the initial 12 weeks, a primary response to therapy, noted as a reduction in hepatitis RNA, was observed in 83 percent of patients in the CIFN group and 78 percent of the pegIFN group. At the end of treatment at week 72, the vast majority (89 percent) of both the CIFN group and pegIFN group (76 percent) were in remission. After finishing treatment, two-thirds of the CIFN group (69 percent) experienced sustained response, but less than half of the pegIFN group (44 percent) experienced these results, indicating a significantly higher relapse rate in this group.

"While many patients did relapse after discontinuing treatment, the overall sustained response rates are nevertheless promising, showing a sustained response in up to 70 percent of patients," said Stephan Kaiser, M.D., of the University of Tuebingen, and lead study author. "We believe that extended treatment with CIFN combined with RBV may be a better option than current standards for this difficult-to-treat patient group."

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Source:American Gastroenterological Association


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