Saint Louis University Logo, Investigator A multi-center trail may have come up with a new way of treating hepatitis C patients. They have found that a novel combination therapy of daily consensus interferon and ribavirin may prove to have a beneficial effect on those patients who didn’t seem to have responded effectively to previous treatment. This revelation was made by Bruce Bacon, M.D., director of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and co-director of the Saint Louis University Liver Center.

Hepatitis C is believed to be caused by a virus, which may be transmitted by contact with blood. Apart from this, the disease may initially also be asymptomatic. Patients with chronic hepatitis C infection may also develop a liver inflammation, which could further lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, cancer or may be even death.

It has been estimated that, in the U.S. around 4 million people may be infected with hepatitis C. It is hypothesized that in the U.S., about 10,000 to 12,000 people annually may die as a result of certain complications.

The diagnosis may differ for patients with chronic hepatitis C. Some of these patients may seem to benefit from an initial treatment of pegylated interferon and ribavirin anti-viral therapy. This treatment may often last for a period for six months to a year. In contrast to this, the remaining patients, called as non-respondents, may also benefit from this treatment but their virus may not be entirely removed. The condition of such patients is believed to be more likely to worsen, and even further treatments don’t seem to have the desired effect.

In order to conduct a deeper analysis on this factor, more than 500 patients were assessed. These patients were either not given any treatment or were given one of two doses of daily consensus interferon and ribavirin.

It was observed that there was a 30% improvement in the patients with severe liver damage, who were believed to have shown some response to the initial treatment. Apart from this, about 7% of the patients who had seemingly not responded to the earlier treatments were observed to have benefited from low doses of the combined therapy. High doses of this therapy were also noted to have benefited about 11% of the patients.

Bacon says that, “This study shows that select patients who have failed to respond to prior therapy are candidates for retreatment with consensus interferon and ribavirin.”

These observations were believed to not only benefit hepatitis C patients, but also those patients with certain factors which may make their condition difficult to treat. Evidently these findings are believed to mark a crucial advancement made for difficult to treat hepatitis C patients who didn’t seem to benefit from their previous treatment.

This study was published in the Hepatology issue.