Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Drug Helps Hepatitis C Patients Start Antiviral Therapy

Date:
October 31, 2006
Source:
Duke University Medical Center
Summary:
A new drug that stimulates the production of blood platelets can enable patients infected with hepatitis C virus to take other antiviral medications they previously could not take to fight the disease, according to the results of a clinical trial led by a Duke University Medical Center researcher.

A new drug that stimulates the production of blood platelets can enable patients infected with hepatitis C virus to take other antiviral medications they previously could not take to fight the disease, according to the results of a clinical trial led by a Duke University Medical Center researcher.

Related Articles


Hepatitis C attacks the liver. An estimated 20 percent of patients go on to develop cirrhosis, a condition that involves destruction of liver cells.

Patients with hepatitis C who have cirrhosis and abnormally low platelet levels, a disorder known as thrombocytopenia, cannot take the standard drugs for fighting the infection, because these drugs also act to lower platelet counts further. Patients with low platelet counts are also at risk for spontaneous bruising; bleeding in mucosal linings, such as in nose, gums and the gastrointestinal tract; and in severe cases, bleeding in the brain. They are also at greater risk of bleeding at the time of medical procedures.

The new drug, called eltrombopag, works by stimulating cells in the bone marrow to produce more platelets, according to Duke liver specialist John McHutchison, M.D., professor of medicine and the principal investigator for the clinical trial. The trial was of a type called Phase II, which tests the safety and effectiveness of a drug in a small population.

McHutchison presented the results of the trial on Monday, Oct. 30, 2006, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, in Boston. The trial was supported by GlaxoSmithKline, which developed eltrombopag. McHutchison has received research support from GSK.

To date, physicians have been reluctant to prescribe the standard antihepatitis C drugs called pegylated interferon and ribavirin to patients with advanced liver disease due to hepatitis C and thrombocytopenia because of pegylated interferon's known effect on lowering platelet counts in the blood, McHutchison said.

"When we give these antiviral agents to patients with normal platelet counts, we can cure approximately half of them," McHutchison said. "Eltrombopag increases platelet levels to the point where patients with thrombocytopenia can then be effectively treated with the antiviral therapies. If the promising results we've seen so far in these early clinical trials are borne out in future larger scale registration trials, we will be able to potentially treat many more patients for whom there are currently no options."

The trial enrolled 74 hepatitis C patients with thrombocytopenia. They were randomized to one of four groups: three groups received eltrombopag at doses of 30 milligrams, 50 milligrams or 75 milligrams, and one group received an inactive placebo. All of the patients took the drug daily for four weeks. Patients whose platelet counts rose to a predefined level after four weeks were then started on the standard antiviral treatment.

"We found that 95 percent of the patients who received the highest dose of the new drug responded with increased levels of platelets, and 91 percent of those patients were then able to start antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin," McHutchison said. "After 12 weeks, 61 percent of these patients were still able to maintain antiviral therapy."

The patients receiving the lower doses of the drug also had better responses than those receiving placebo. Three-quarters of the patients taking either 30 milligrams or 50 milligrams of the drug demonstrated increased platelet levels enough to initiate antiviral therapy. In the placebo group, no patients saw this improvement. Fifty-three percent of patients taking the 50 milligram dose were able to complete the 12-week course of antivirals, and 36 percent of those taking 30 milligrams completed the course.

Side effects of the drug -- headache, dry mouth, nausea and diarrhea -- were not clinically worrisome, McHutchison said.

The new drug also may benefit patients who have low platelet counts caused by other liver diseases, particularly those who need to undergo surgery or other invasive procedures that carry a significant risk of bleeding, he said.

McHutchison and other investigators are currently involved in planning larger Phase III clinical trials of eltrombopag to further refine the optimal dosing for the drug and to determine which patients would benefit most from receiving the drug. Phase III trials usually are the final stage before a new drug is introduced to the marketplace.

It is estimated that about 3.9 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus. The virus is most commonly transmitted by injected drug use.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University Medical Center. "New Drug Helps Hepatitis C Patients Start Antiviral Therapy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183252.htm>.
Duke University Medical Center. (2006, October 31). New Drug Helps Hepatitis C Patients Start Antiviral Therapy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183252.htm
Duke University Medical Center. "New Drug Helps Hepatitis C Patients Start Antiviral Therapy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061030183252.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

These Popular Antibiotics Can Cause Permanent Nerve Damage

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) — A popular class of antibiotic can leave patients in severe pain and even result in permanent nerve damage. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins