London: A team of researchers has suggested that a three-drug cocktail can eliminate the Hepatitis C virus in patients far more effectively than the current two-drug regimen.
"This study represents a remarkable advance and a potential cure for people with Hepatitis C who have not responded to previous therapy," says co-author Stuart C. Gordon, section chief for the Division of Hepatology at Henry Ford Hospital.
In the study, researchers randomly assigned patients to one of three groups. In all three groups, patients received peginterferon and ribavirin (the current standard of care) for four weeks.
A control group (group 1) continued to receive only peginterferon–ribavirin for 44 additional weeks; group 2 received boceprevir plus peginterferon–ribavirin for 32 weeks, and patients with a detectable Hepatitis C virus level at treatment week 8 received placebo plus peginterferon–ribavirin for an additional 12 weeks; and group 3 received boceprevir plus peginterferon–ribavirin for 44 weeks.
Boceprevir is a protease inhibitor, a new class of direct-acting antiviral agent that specifically targets and inhibits the replication of the hepatitis C virus.
Results showed the rate of sustained virologic response (loss of the virus) was significantly higher in the two boceprevir groups (group 2, 59 percent; group 3, 66 percent) than in the control group (21 percent).
Among patients with an undetectable Hepatitis C virus level at treatment week 8, the rate of sustained virologic response was 86 percent after 32 weeks of triple therapy and 88 percent after 44 weeks of triple therapy. A sustained virologic response generally translates into a long-term eradication of virus, or cure.
The results of the global study have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine.