Poordad explained that this is because interferon dampens the whole immune system to keep the virus at bay. The new medications are what's called targeted therapies, which specifically go after the hepatitis C virus instead of attacking the whole immune system, he said.
"We're giving a drug that's killing the virus without bothering the host (the person with hepatitis C)," said Poordad.
His study had 50 people with genotype 1 hepatitis C, the most common and hardest-to-treat form of hepatitis C, according to Poordad. None had developed liver scarring (cirrhosis) yet.
Study volunteers were split into three groups. One group had never been treated for hepatitis C and received ABT-333, ribavirin and 250 milligrams (mg) of ABT-450 with 100 mg of ritonavir (making the ABT-450/r combination). The second group had also never received treatment. They received the same medications, except their dose of ABT-450 was 150 mg. The third group had received treatment for hepatitis C but had had no response or only a partial response to treatment. They were given ABT-333, ribavirin and 150 mg of ABT-450 and 100 mg of ritonavir.
The first two groups had a 95 percent and 93 percent sustained response to the drug. In the third group, only 47 percent had a sustained virologic response, the investigators found.
The most common side effects included abnormal liver function tests, fatigue, nausea, itching and headache.
The second study, conducted in New Zealand, included 95 people with hepatitis C genotypes 1, 2 or 3. They were split into eight groups and received varying treatments. All of the treatments included 400 mg of the new drug sofosbuvir.
Sustained response rates were impressive -- 100 percent -- when sofosbuvir
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