Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have found a new cure for these patients: an all-oral treatment regimen of specific medications that results in high cure rates of hepatitis C virus infection in patients following treatment.
The research team, led by Michael Charlton, MD, medical director of the Liver Transplantation Program at Intermountain Medical Center, just published results of the nationwide study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Charlton recently announced the results of the study and the implications for patients with advanced liver disease due to the hepatitis C virus at a press briefing at Intermountain Medical Center.
The results are highly promising, he says.
“During the study, liver function was seen to stabilize or improve in the great majority of patients following treatment,” said Dr. Charlton, who served as principal investigator of the ASTRAL-4 trial.
For the study, Intermountain Medical Center collaborated with some of the leading academic medical centers across the nation, including investigators at 50 sites throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
“Although longer follow-up is needed, the ability to achieve a high cure rate of hepatitis C in patients with advanced liver disease — and the observation of early stabilization and improvement of liver function — raises the possibility of decreasing the number of patients with hepatitis C who need liver transplantation.”
Currently, liver failure due to hepatitis C is the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States and Europe.
Dr. Charlton served as the joint-lead author of the paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Michael Curry, MD, director of hepatology and medical director of liver transplantation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was the other co-lead author.
“The ASTRAL-4 trial represents a major collaboration between Intermountain Medical Center and leading academic medical centers across the nation, plus the study sponsor and patients,” said Dr. Charlton. “We had a total of 267 patients with liver failure caused by hepatitis C participate in the clinical study, and roughly 90 percent of those patients with advanced liver disease were cured of the viral infection.”
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver and can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure if left untreated. Most people are unaware they have hepatitis C until damage to their liver becomes severe. Approximately 2.7 million people in the United States have a chronic hepatitis C virus infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infection is more prevalent among those born between 1945 and 1965.# # #
About 2.7 million people in the United States have a chronic hepatitis C virus infection, which can lead to liver failure or death. But thanks to new research led by researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, there’s new hope for patients with advanced liver disease due to the chronic viral infection.