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New antiviral drug shows promise for dramatic improvement in hepatitis C treatment
Date:8/9/2010

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  • To test whether the addition of boceprevir could make it possible to shorten treatment times, some patients were randomly selected to receive the three-drug combination for 28 weeks, some for 48 weeks.
  • Researchers also investigated whether a 4 week lead-in with the standard two-drug combination prior to the addition of boceprevir to the treatment regime could improve sustained virologic response rates. The goal was to see if allowing the interferon and ribavirin to reach steady state levels -- which would activate the immune system and reduce virus levels -- before adding boceprevir would improve the response rates as well as reduce the virus' ability to develop resistance to boceprevir, said Kwo.
  • In another arm of the trial, researchers tested whether a lower dose of ribavirin could reduce the anemia side effects while still treating the virus effectively.

"Both 28- and 48-week boceprevir regimens significantly increased sustained virologic response rates which is the best definition of a cure we have compared to the 48 week control," said Dr. Kwo. "The 48-week treatment arm with 4 weeks of peg interferon lead-in and 44 weeks of peg interferon, ribavirin, and boceprevir led to the largest improvement over the control group ever reported. That's very impressive."

Boceprevir, a product of Merck & Co., is an HCV protease inhibitor a compound designed to block a function key to viral reproduction in the cell. Boceprevir directly targets the hepatitis C virus, Kwo noted, while peginterferon and ribavirin are less specific, acting more generally to stimulate the body's virus-fighting immune system.

The best results were reported for the 103 patients who were treated for four weeks with the standard two drug regiment, followed by 44 weeks of the three-drug regimen including boceprevir: 75 percent of these patients tested negative for evidence of the virus six months after the end of treatment. Results
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Contact: Eric Schoch
eschoch@iupui.edu
317-274-7722
Indiana University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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