From:  desertdweller
To:  Name Deleted
Given the large number of vets with Hep C, thought this promising new
treatment would be of interest to any vets with Hep C, so check with
your Docs on this:
Hepatitis C drug breakthrough

New drugs to fight hepatitis C reduce the virus to nearly undetectable levels in a matter of days, according to scientists. Clinical trials are currently under way to examine the effects of these new drugs on patients with the virus.
But tests carried out in the United States suggest they will have a dramatic impact on the health of people with hepatitis C. They belong to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors, which have been used to treat patients with HIV.
The drugs work by blocking a part of the virus called the protease enzyme. With the protease enzyme blocked, hepatitis C makes copies of the virus that are defective and cannot infect new cells.
Major benefits: But scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have found these types of drugs have other major properties. They have discovered the drugs stop hepatitis C from suppressing the immune system. This in turn enables the body to fight back using its own natural defenses.
They have also found the impact is swift. Virus levels are reduced within days. "We found that the new protease inhibitors could actually prevent the virus from blocking this immune response and basically restore the innate antiviral response in human cells," said Dr Michael Gale, assistant professor of microbiology at UT Southwestern. The findings will offer hope to thousands of people with hepatitis C around the world.
At present, 85% of those who are infected with hepatitis C develop chronic infections that are not responsive to drugs. Around 70% of these go on to develop liver cancer and nearly 3% of those with long-term infections die of related illnesses. There is currently no cure for hepatitis C although a number of companies are working on potential vaccines.
The virus is found in the blood and can be passed on by intravenous drug users who share needles, from contaminated blood products and sexual contact.
Doctors at the University of Texas Medical Branch which has a major hepatitis research centre welcomed the findings. Its dean of medicine Dr Stanley Lemon said: "These new findings with hepatitis C virus suggest that protease inhibitors will become an important addition to existing interferon treatments for hepatitis C and that they will have equal if not greater impact on the treatment of this important form of liver disease."
The study is published on the website Science Express.

Hepatitis C drug breakthrough