Presented by Nezam Afdhal, M.D., chief of Hepatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the new findings demonstrate promising results for hepatitis C patients who have not responded to existing therapies.
According to Afdhal, the most recent advance in treatment has been the pegylation of interferon. Combination therapy with pegylated interferon plus another agent can result in eradication of the virus in about half of patients, he added.
Afdhal first described results from his COPILOT study, which was designed to test interferon among hepatitis C patients.
According to Afdhal, researchers found that peginterferon alfa -2B reduced by half the risk of patients reaching a clinical endpoint.
The COPILOT study tested peginterferon alfa-2b against an anti- inflammatory and antifibrotic medication in hepatitis C patients with advanced fibrosis who had previously failed interferon- based therapies. A total of 59 patients reached a clinical verified endpoint: 39 in the alternate group versus 20 in the peginterferon alfa-2b group.
Afdhal noted that the low weekly dose of peginterferon alfa-2b used in the study was gentler than other commonly used medications.
Afdhal’s second presentation described results from preliminary human testing of a new antiviral agent, NM283.
The new drug shows activity against hepatitis C genotype 1 (HCV).
Unlike existing therapies, which are administered by injection, NM283 is taken orally, says Afdhal, adding that it also has fewer side effects than existing agents. Afdhal hopes that NM283 can be used as a treatment option in the future.