German scientists found a way to cure acute hepatitis C after only six weeks. They concluded that the antiviral treatment of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir prevents the disease that can cause severe liver damage.
“Given the high cost of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, and the associated side effects that occur during treatment, we set out to assess whether shortened treatment duration could be an effective option for acute hepatitis C patients,” explains study author Katja Deterding from Hannover Medical School in Germany.
The study, presented at The International Liver Congress in Barcelona, involved the German HepNet Study-House administering sofosbuvir and ledipasvir to 20 patients with hepatitis C for six weeks without ribavirin. These patients were infected through sexual intercourse, needle stick injury or other invasive medical procedures, nail treatment injuries, drug use and others.
Based on a follow-up assessment 12 weeks after, all of the participants had undetectable hepatitis C virus, higher than the result of current treatments that only helps up to 95 percent of patients affected. The antiviral treatment, however, caused fatigue to 30 percent of these participants.
“Our research demonstrates that not only is the combination of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir safe, well tolerated and effective in acute HCV genotype 1 patients who have severe liver disease with very high liver enzymes, but a shorter treatment duration does not appear to hinder efficacy,” says senior study author Heiner Wedemeyer.
Acute hepatitis C is caused by hepatitis C virus infection. The disease usually goes away in 10 to 50 percent of patients. Most patients with HCV infection are undiagnosed and consequently, they would most likely suffer from severe liver damage. Current treatments for chronic HCV include administering sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, which does not work for everyone, unlike the German study’s treatment.
“These exciting findings open up short and cost-effective treatment options that could prevent the spread of HCV in high-risk populations,” concludes Frank Tacke, governing Board member of the European Association for the Study of the Liver. “We look forward to seeing this pilot study extended so the findings can be validated and then hopefully used as a tool to change clinical practice for the better.”