Penn Medicine: New Treatments Tame Hepatitis C Virus, Lessen Side Effects Seen with Other Therapies

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Media Contact:Lee-Ann Donegan | leeann.donegan@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-349-5660April 18, 2014

Three million Americans suffer from Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, with baby boomers representing a large proportion of those infected.

Penn Medicine is part of nationwide team of researchers whose recent findings shows promise in curing between 94 and 99 percent of cases of previously untreated and those who failed prior HCV treatment. The findings were both presented at the European Association for the Study of the Liver and published simultaneously online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The simple oral regimen, a 12-week course of antiviral drugs ledipasvir and sofosbuvir have shown success in treating patients with HCV genotype 1, a form of the virus found in up to 75 percent of infections.

The results were equally as astounding in both patients who had previously failed available HCV treatment and those who had never been treated for HCV. Previous HCV medications came with a variety of significant side effects, including influenza-like symptoms, depression and anemia, making many patients ineligible for these interferon-based treatments. Study results showed that the new treatment regimen all but eliminates these side effects.

Penn researchers, led by K. Rajender Reddy, MD, professor of Medicine and medical director of Hepatology/Transplantation Hepatology, were the regional leaders in this and earlier research that showed great success and similar results with a longer treatment time of 12 to 24 weeks, as opposed to 8 to 12 weeks.

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