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Hepatitis C treatment's side effects can now be studied in the lab
Date:11/16/2012

in Cameron's lab; other scientists at Penn State; and researchers from other academic, government, and corporate labs. "We have taken anti-HCV medications and, in Petri dishes and test tubes, we have shown that these drugs affect functions within a cell's mitochondria," Cameron explained. "The cellular mitochondria --- a tiny structure known as 'the powerhouse of the cell' that is responsible for making energy known as ATP -- is affected by these compounds and is likely a major reason why we see adverse effects." Cameron noted that scientists have known for some time that certain individuals have "sick" mitochondria. Such individuals are likely more sensitive to the mitochondrial side effects of antiviral drugs.

"We know that antiviral drugs, including the ones used to treat HCV, affect even normal, healthy mitochondria by slowing ATP output," Arnold added. "While a person with normal mitochondria will experience some ATP and mitochondrial effects, a person who is already predisposed to mitochondrial dysfunction will be pushed over the 'not enough cellular energy' threshold by the antiviral drug. The person's mitochondria simply won't be able to keep up."

One of the problems with clinical trials, Arnold explained, is that a drug may be shown to be quite effective but, if even a miniscule percentage of patients have side effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is obligated to put the trial on hold or stop the trial altogether. This possibility makes drug companies reluctant to invest money in drug trials after an adverse event has been observed, even when the drugs could still help millions of people. The researchers hope that their methods eventually will become a part of the pre-clinical development process for this class of antiviral drugs. "If we can show, in the lab, that a drug will cause side effects, then these compounds will not enter lengthy, expensive clinical trials and cause harm to patients " he said. "What's more, a drug compa
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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

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