In a phase 1 trial, the first of three types of studies that new drugs must go through, researchers gave doses of the drug to a small number of people.
The level of the virus in their bodies dropped significantly for several days. The main side effect was headache, Meanwell said.
At this point, it's not clear how much the drug might cost or how it would work with existing drugs. However, Meanwell said, it could become part of a combination treatment of several drugs.
Schiff, the University of Miami doctor, said other companies are pursuing similar drugs.
For now, much of the attention in the world of liver disease is on two drugs -- telaprevir and boceprevir -- that Schiff expects will become available within the next year and a half.
Combination treatments using these drugs will become the standard treatment for many people, he said, and boost cure rates into the range of 70 to 80 percent. The drugs now under development, like the one in the new study, could be added to the regimen, he said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on hepatitis C.
SOURCES: Eugene R. Schiff, M.D., professor, medicine, and director, division of hepatology and Center for Liver Diseases, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami; Nicholas A. Meanwell, Ph.D., researcher, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wallingford, Conn.; April 21, 2010, Nature, online
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