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
your Docs on this:
Hepatitis C drug
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
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
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.