31 October 2016 - PRESS RELEASE

Curing acute hepatitis C in only six weeks

For the first time, a German Liver Foundation trial shows that the chronic hepatitis C drugs developed in the last years can also cure acute hepatitis C—even faster than the chronic disease. The trial was conducted at the HepNet Study House, a German Liver Foundation establishment funded by the DZIF.

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Identifying viral hepatitis as early as possible is an important goal. © DZIF/ScienceRelations

A liver infection with the hepatitis C virus can have severe consequences, such as liver cell cancer and liver cirrhosis. The first six months of infection are considered “acute” HCV infections which spontaneously cure in ten to 50 percent of cases. Acute hepatitis C is identified rarely, because it is usually symptom-free. However, if the virus remains in the body and permanently damages the liver, drugs become necessary. New drugs to treat this have successfully been developed over the last years, and have been used since 2014.

New drugs also help to treat acute hepatitis C

New drugs such as ledipasvir and sofosbuvir directly target hepatitis C virus replication and can be used without interferon, which had previously always been necessary and causes many side effects. On the one hand, the current trial investigated whether one of the drugs can safely be used to treat acute hepatitis as well, and on the other whether a shorter duration of treatment is sufficient.

All patients received a one-tablet combination of the agents ledipasvir and sofosbuvir over six weeks, and were subsequently followed up for twelve weeks. The treatment was very successful: all patients were cured and there were no side effects worth mentioning. The usual duration of treatment for chronic hepatitis C with this drug is eight to twelve weeks. According to this trial, a shorter duration of treatment is sufficient for treating acute hepatitis C. “Besides this, curing the disease early avoids infection of other people,” explains Prof Heiner Wedemeyer, DZIF scientist at the MHH and co-author of the trial.

The trial was funded by the DZIF and Gilead Sciences GmbH. The DZIF funds the German Liver Foundations HepNet Study House and uses its infrastructures for clinical trials as well as their hepatitis registry.

Publication

Deterding K et al.: Ledipasvir plus sofosbuvir fixed-dose combination for 6 weeks in patients with acute hepatitis C virus genotype 1 monoinfection (HepNet Acute HCV IV): an open-label, single-arm, phase 2 study.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases“ (doi: dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30408-X, epub



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