Henry Ford Researchers Report Breakthrough in Hepatitis C Treatment

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Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and other medical institutions say they have found an effective treatment for patients with the most common strain of hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral disease that leads to scarring and deterioration of the liver.

In the United States, an estimated 3 million people have chronic hepatitis C, which can be spread through the use of infected needles or from mothers who have hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is the beginning of a new era toward the global eradication of hepatitis C,” says Dr. Stuart Gordon, director of the hepatology section at Henry Ford and co-investigator on the trial. “In the past, such antiviral therapy was difficult: patients often had intolerable side effects.”

In 2013, the FDA approved a 12-week regimen of the anti-viral drug sofosbuvir combined with ribavirin and interferon, which can cause severe side effects in some patients, including fatigue, rash, depression, headache, irritability, and insomnia.

In contrast, Gordon and other researchers found patients experienced few side effects when given a daily, fixed dose of sofosbuvir, combined with ledipasvir, another anti-viral drug. The study — which followed nearly 650 patients without cirrhosis, or liver scarring — showed patients experienced a 93 to 94 percent cure rate after eight weeks of treatment and a 95 percent cure rate within 12 weeks of treatment.

A collaboration of researchers presented their findings during the International Liver Congress, held in London from April 9-13. The research was also highlighted online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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