Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New drug helps hepatitis C patients start antiviral therapy

31.10.2006
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.

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.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mc.duke.edu

Further reports about: Eltrombopag Hepatitis McHutchison antiviral milligram platelet thrombocytopenia trial

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>