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NEJM study points to new era in hepatitis C treatment
Date:6/5/2009

s taking telaprevir in combination with standard therapy for 12 weeks followed by standard therapy alone for 36 weeks were cured; and 61 percent of those taking telaprevir in combination with standard therapy for 12 weeks followed by standard therapy alone for 12 weeks were cured. This is compared to 41 percent cure rate in the 48-week control group.

The study also showed that the percentage of patients who relapsed in the 24-week and 48-week telaprevir-based groups (2 percent and 6 percent, respectively) was much lower than the control group (23 percent).

The most common reported side effect in the telaprevir groups was rash, and contributed to some patients discontinuing the therapy.

Peginterferon alfa-2a is an antiviral drug given by injection that is also used to treat HIV and hepatitis B; it works in conjunction with a drug called ribavirin, a nucleoside analogue, to suppress the viral activity of hepatitis C. Side effects can include severe flu-like symptoms, depression, fatigue, insomnia and anemia.

"Treating genotype 1 hepatitis C, the most common form of the infection in the United States, can be challenging because the side effects are difficult for many people to endure, the duration of treatment is long, and traditionally less than half of patients are able to be cured of their disease," says Dr. Andrew Muir, a gastroenterologist at Duke Clinical Research Institute and a senior investigator on the study. "Even though telaprevir does produce side effects of its own, its addition to standard therapy was able to improve response rates and shorten the duration of treatment necessary -- either one alone would have been an advance, and to be able to achieve both is a significant step in the right direction when it comes to treating hepatitis C."

The study's lead author is Dr. John McHutchison, a hepatologist and gastroenterologist and researcher at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. Additional co-authors include
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Contact: Linda Kamateh
lib9027@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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