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Experimental Drug May Work Against Hepatitis C
Date:3/27/2013

fection is a major cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver.

Led by Dr. Harry Janssen, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, researchers split 36 patients with hepatitis C into four groups. Nine patients in each of the first three groups received a dose of either 3 milligrams (mg), 5 mg or 7 mg of miravirsen per kilogram of body weight for 29 days, while the last nine patients received a placebo. All were followed for 18 weeks.

The so-called viral load of patients receiving the highest dose decreased by about 500-fold, Lieberman said, and the hepatitis C virus was below detectable levels in four of nine patients. Meanwhile, the treatment caused no significant toxic effects in any patients, aside from mild injection-site reactions and a brief increase in liver enzyme levels.

Calling the study "interesting," Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of hepatology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., said that as an injectable drug, miravirsen would be less desirable among patients than other new drugs for hepatitis C that can be taken orally.

"It's a novel concept, but it's only 36 patients and a phase 2 study," Bernstein said. "It's impressive that their viral loads came down, but most suffered a recurrence of the virus."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about hepatitis C.

SOURCES: Judy Lieberman, M.D., Ph.D., chairwoman, cellular and molecular medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, and professor, pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston; David Bernstein, M.D., chief, division of hepatology, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; March 27, 2013, New England Journal of Medicine


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