New drug combination treats hepatitis C patients also infected with HIV

24 July 2015

Roughly 20 to 30 per cent of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are also infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV). Both blood-borne viruses share the same modes of transmission, but many HCV medications currently have significant limitations due to adverse interactions with HIV treatments.

Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report a new combination that effectively treats HCV in patients co-infected with HIV.

The study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the combination of HCV drugs daclatasvir and sofosbuvir both pills cured HCV in 97 per cent of patients also infected with HIV.

''In many HCV / HIV co-infected patients, HCV therapies can have a strong interaction with HIV medications that complicate or potentially exclude them from HCV treatment,'' says  David Wyles, MD, lead author of the study in the Division of Infectious Diseases.

''This study is novel because it shows the new drug combination was not compromised when used with a wide range of HIV medications, increasing the number of HCV/HIV patients who can be treated without modifying their HIV medications.''

The 12-week study involved 151 patients and was the first to test this treatment regimen in those with HIV/HCV. Patients who participated in the clinical trial were closely monitored up to 24 weeks post treatment.

Another reason the study findings are important, said Wyles, is because HCV is a major cause of chronic liver disease in the United States, and liver damage progresses more rapidly in those also infected with HIV.

''Liver disease is a leading cause of death among HIV patients, so it is a high priority to treat co-infected patients and reduce the potentially fatal effect,'' said Wyles, also associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Sofosbuvir is already approved for use in the United States; daclatasvir is scheduled to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in August.

''These findings are very exciting in the infectious diseases world, as they could help an entire demographic that has historically struggled finally receive successful treatment for HCV,'' said Wyles.

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