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New biomarker predicts response to hepatitis C treatment
Date:8/16/2009

ith the favorable (CC) genotype had a significantly higher rate of response to treatment (53.3 percent) than did individuals of European ancestry who had the less favorable (TT) genotype (33.3 percent).

The researchers also ran tests to see if the presence of the biomarker was related in any way to viral load, a measure of how much virus was circulating in the patient before treatment started. They found a significant association in all groups. "Interestingly, we found that the C allele, although associated with better treatment response, was associated with a higher viral load at baseline something we have traditionally viewed as a negative prognostic marker when it comes to treatment response," says McHutchison.

That finding, along with other evidence gleaned in the research, suggests that patients who have the beneficial genetic marker might be especially adept at spontaneously clearing the virus through some as yet unknown mechanism, says McHutchison. "It was thrilling to discover such an important biological marker related to response to hepatitis C treatments, but at the same time, the findings tell us there is a lot more work to do before we can fully understand how patients' immune systems protect them from the virus."

"This stunning finding supports the integration of research efforts that previously were not connected," says Robert Califf, M.D., vice chancellor for clinical research and director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute. "Drs. Goldstein, McHutchison and colleagues have combined world class genotyping and clinical trials management in an academic medical center with an industry sponsored clinical trial to produce a set of findings that are likely to change practice. Their focus on modification of clinical outcomes is especially important to note as we design future studies."

Some members of the research team are interested in finding a way to routinely test for the new marker, but McHutchison say
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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