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Study shows positive findings in treating patients with advanced hepatitis C
Date:4/24/2008

MILAN, ITALY, April 24, 2008 The hepatitis C therapy peginterferon alfa-2b, when given as low-dose maintenance therapy, can prevent disease progression in certain patients who failed previous interferon-based hepatitis C therapies and have advanced liver disease, according to findings from a large, four-year study presented today at the 43rd annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

The study, called COPILOT (COlchicine versus Peg-Intron LOng-Term), showed that low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b was superior to colchicine in improving the disease-free survival of patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension, especially in patients who stayed on treatment. In the study, more than 40 percent of patients had portal hypertension, a condition of high blood pressure in the major vessel going to the liver from the gastrointestinal tract and which often accompanies liver cirrhosis. However, peginterferon alfa-2b maintenance therapy was not superior to colchicine in patients overall.

These findings make a strong case for considering low-dose peginterferon alfa-2b as a maintenance therapy in patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension who have failed hepatitis C eradication therapy, said principal investigator Nezam Afdhal, M.D., Chief of Hepatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. While other interferon maintenance therapies have been studied in the past few years in previous interferon nonresponders, these findings show, for the first time, a clinical benefit in a specific population with advanced disease, he said.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is transmitted through exposure to infected blood and affects an estimated 4 million individuals in the United States. The current standard treatment, combination therapy with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin for 24 to 48 weeks, can eradicate the virus in about 50 percent of pa
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Contact: Bonnie Prescott
bprescot@bidmc.harvard.edu
617-667-7306
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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