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African-Americans Have A Reduced Response To Hepatitis C Treatment

According to a new study by Duke University Medical Center researchers, African-Americans have a notably lower response in the rate of treatment //for chronic hepatitis C than non-Hispanic whites.

The researchers had reported in the August issue of Gastroenterology, which is the journal for the members of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), that the African American patients with hepatitis C (HCV) infections experience a reduced response in the rate in treatment with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin combination treatment than Caucasian Americans. They explained that the so-called racial differences in viral responses might be seen as the fourth week of treatment. It was further explained that pegylated interferon combined with ribavirin is standard therapy for HCV.

Researchers from the Study of Viral Resistance to Antiviral Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C (Virahep-C), which is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), conducted the study to determine the potential mechanisms of antiviral resistance among patients who fail to respond to current optimal therapy regimens. While African Americans have a higher prevalence of HCV infection, they have been underrepresented in most therapeutic clinical trials, making it difficult to estimate response rates in these patients.

According to Charles Howell, MD, associate professor of medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine and chairperson of the Virahep-C Study Group Steering Committee, "The basis for the racial difference in virologic response rates is being addressed by ongoing supplementary studies in genetics, immunology, interferon signaling and pharmacology, and virology. However, our study results indicate that the reduced response rate among African American patients is not caused by the usual predictors such as patient age, gender, pretreatment serum HCV concentrations, amount of fibrosis in the liv
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