Hepatitis Central

The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatments.

Get the Nutrients You're Missing for Optimal Liver Health

Interferon-Free Treatments Are Imminent for Hep C

Nicole Cutler L.Ac.

July 3, 2012

Print this page

Although not available yet, interferon-free treatment for Hepatitis C is coming – representing a significant improvement in fighting this prevalent viral infection.

Composing one half or one third of the currently prescribed Hepatitis C therapy regimens, interferon is a fierce drug. Due to an inability to tolerate interferon, many people are deemed “non-responders” to Hepatitis C treatment. Luckily, there are a handful of interferon-free treatment regimens in trials that are showing great promise for previous non-responders.

We are witnessing an exciting time in Hepatitis C treatment progress. Combination therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin long stood as the standard of care for chronic Hepatitis C infection. Effective in achieving a cure in about half of those on the treatment, these drugs are associated with extremely challenging side effects.

Administered as an injection, interferon has been used since the late 1980s in the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C. Improving its usability, pegylated interferon rendered the drug long-acting. Adding orally administered ribavirin dramatically increased interferon’s efficacy in clearing Hepatitis C. Although interferon is still standard in the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C, its side effects can be brutal. Common interferon-related side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Skin itching and rash
  • Hair loss
  • Cough and chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anemia (suppression of bone marrow’s production of red blood cells)
  • Neutropenia (suppression of bone marrow’s production of leukocytes)
  • Thrombocytopenia (suppression of bone marrow’s production of blood platelets)
  • Visual changes
  • Thyroid problems

In the spring of 2011, Hepatitis C treatment leapt forward with the approval of two new drugs, telaprevir and boceprevir. These direct-acting, antiviral, protease inhibitors increase the effectiveness of interferon and ribavirin in a shorter amount of time. However, interferon’s side effects remain a major reason people either are not candidates for, or delay or refuse treatment. Thus, effective, safe, interferon-free treatment regimens represent the current goal of drug manufacturers, fueling a majority of today’s Hepatitis C research.

Finally, the quest to produce an interferon-free drug protocol appears within Western medicine’s reach. Data from various studies in the first part of 2012 has brought great expectation to the future of Hepatitis C treatment. With heavy investing in this arena, keep an eye out for progress from the following list of hopefuls from seven different pharmaceutical companies:

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb – Asunaprevir and Daclatasvir
  • Roche – Danoprevir and Mericitabine and Setrobuvir
  • Merck – Vaniprevir
  • Boehringer Ingelheim – BI 201335 and BI 207127
  • Janssen – TMC435
  • Gilead – GS7977 and Tegobuvir
  • Vertex – VX-222

Although not a comprehensive list, three examples of encouraging preliminary trial results are:

  1. As reported in April of 2012, an interferon-free combination of BI 201335, BI 207127 and ribavirin given for 12 weeks yielded a 68 percent success rate in those with Hepatitis C genotype 1.
  2. As reported in early 2012, combination therapy with asunaprevir and daclatasvir for 12 weeks suppressed Hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection in 90 percent of previous non-responders.
  3. As reported in April of 2012 at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, a preliminary study of mericitabine, danoprevir and ribavirin showed over a 70 percent success rate against treatment naïve Hepatitis C genotype 1.

Although experts believe it may be another three to five years for the first interferon-free combinations for Hepatitis C infection to become available, they agree that more effective, easier to tolerate treatment cocktails are undoubtedly on their way.

References:

http://www.aidsmap.com/Full-speed-ahead-to-curing-hep-C/page/2368492/, Full Speed Ahead to CURING Hepatitis C, Liz Highleyman, Retrieved July 1, 2012, NAM Publications, 2012.

http://www.gastroendonews.com/ViewArticle.aspx?d=Breaking+News&d_id=409&i=February+2012&i_id=809&a_id=20098, New Study of Interferon-free HCV Therapy Hailed as ‘Watershed Moment’ in Hep C Research, Christina Frangou, Retrieved July 1, 2012, McMahon Publishing, 2012.

http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/provider/reviews/treatment-side-effects.asp#S1X, Interferon and Ribavirin Treatment Side Effects, Retrieved July 1, 2012, US Department of Veteran Affairs, 2012.

http://www.hepcassoc.org/Hepatitiscnews-2012-feb9.html, Hepatitis C News, William F. Balistreri, MD, Hepatitis C Association, Inc, 2012.

http://www.natap.org/2012/EASL/EASL_52.htm, Interferon-Free Treatment with a Combination of Mericitabine and Danoprevir/R With or Without Ribavirin in Treatment-Naïve HCV Genotype 1-Infected Patients, Jules Levin, Retrieved July 1, 2012, EASL 47th Annual Meeting, 2012.

http://us.boehringer-ingelheim.com/news_events/press_releases/press_release_archive/2012/april_19_2012.html, Phase 2b Study of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Interferon-Free Hepatitis C Treatment Shows Undetectable Virus in HCV Genotype-1 Patients 12 Weeks After Treatment Ended (SVR12), Retrieved July 1, 2012, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, 2012.

Save 20% + free shipping

Posted by Nicole Cutler L.Ac. on July 3, 2012

Requirements for using and reposting articles

  • warren

    tried interferon 10 years ago. Could not go more than 7 weeks of a 48 week program. Doing fine so far with eating the right foods. will go for treatment as soon as they have a interferon free treatment

Site Topics

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Some of our most commonly asked questions and our answers to them.

  • Hepatitis News

    Tthe latest news on hepatitis treatments, clinical trials, social issues and important breakthroughs.

  • What Is Hepatitis C?

    Learn about the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

  • Hepatitis C Symptoms

    You'll find links to a comprehensive symptoms list, as well as various studies and discussions about Hepatitis C symptoms.

  • Hepatitis C Transmission

    Information about the transmission of Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Genotypes

  • Learn about Hepatitis C Genotypes and their variants.

  • HCV Viral Load

    Provides detailed information on how to analyze and interpret viral load numbers as well as a link to a convenient Viral Load Chart.

  • Liver Enzymes

    Learn about the importance of testing liver enzyme levels and causes of abnormal levels.

  • Lab Tests

    What they are and what they mean. Helps you interpret & understand all the various hepatitis lab tests likely to be encountered.

  • Hepatitis During Pregnancy

    Learn how hepatitis infection may affect the pregnant mother and baby.

  • Hepatitis C Conventional Treatment

    Learn about the conventional medical treatments used to fight Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Medicines

    Numerous links to studies, info sheets, FAQs, and analysis of Ribavirin/Rebetron medicines.

  • Hepatitis C Alternative Therapies

    Alternative methods of treatment due to side effects and dissatisfication with current medical treatments.

  • Hepatitis C Natural Remedies

    A number of herbal products useful in the management of liver disease.

  • Top 5 Liver Supplements

    Provides information regarding the best known liver supporting supplements.

  • Top 5 Milk Thistles

    Provides information regarding the best known milk thistle supplements.

  • HCV Diet

    A basic diet for those with Hepatitis C.

  • Hepatitis C Survivor Stories

    Survivor stories that have been shared to benefit others with Hepatitis C.

  • Cirrhosis

    Many discussions and analyses of cirrhosis, including causes, complications, pathology, symptoms, and much more.

  • Hepatitis C Doctors

    A state-by-state and worldwide reference listing physicians who treat HCV, including an email link to submit your physician for inclusion.

  • Hepatitis C Community External link

    A Bulletin Board for discussions on hepatitis, treatments, etc.

Advertisement