Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New test helps identify hepatitis C patients at high risk of developing cirrhosis

30.04.2007
A researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has helped confirm the reliability of a new test for liver disease that is ushering in the long-promised era of personalized medicine based on each individual's genetic makeup.

The Stanford group was one of the five sites that helped determine that the genetic test can identify patients who are at high risk of developing cirrhosis from chronic hepatitis C infection. That means high-risk patients could be directed toward a long course of expensive, debilitating drug therapy, while low-risk patients might be better off delaying treatment.

"Management of cirrhosis patients is challenging," said Ramsey Cheung, MD, associate professor of medicine at the school and chief of hepatology at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System, who led the Stanford arm of the study. "This test is the first of its kind to use the genetic makeup of each patient to determine who is likely to develop cirrhosis. High-risk patients should be targeted for early treatment."

The test looks at variations of seven genes, and was developed by Celera, headquartered in Rockville, Md.

Cheung is the senior author of the study, which will be published in the April 27 advance online issue of the journal Hepatology. Cheung is a paid consultant for Celera, which also funded the study.

"Current therapy for hepatitis C unfortunately is very expensive, has multiple side effects and a suboptimal response rate for most patients," said Cheung. Treatment includes weekly injections of alpha interferon along with the drug ribavirin, which can cost more than $30,000 per year and can cause flu-like symptoms, nausea, depression and other side effects. And only half of patients undergoing this therapy will be cured of the infection.

Nearly 4 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus, of which nearly 80 percent have a chronic infection, according to the American Liver Foundation. Chronic infection can lead to the severe scarring known as cirrhosis, which in turn may result in liver cancer or liver failure. Hepatitis C infection is the most common reason people need a liver transplant in the United States and is responsible for between 8,000 and 10,000 U.S. deaths annually.

But in the majority of people chronically infected with hepatitis C, the virus causes either no symptoms or vague, nonspecific ones. In around one-third of people chronically infected with the virus, the disease progression is slow and they may never develop cirrhosis, even after decades of infection.

The dilemma physicians face, explained Cheung, is deciding who to treat and who can wait for better therapies to come along. The key is being able to determine which patients are likely to see the infection progress to cirrhosis. Doctors consider such factors as age, gender and alcohol consumption to predict such risk, but because of individual variability, these factors don't yield a very accurate prediction. A liver biopsy can indicate the amount of damage to the liver up until the time of the biopsy, but can't reveal how much future damage will occur.

The new test assessed by Cheung and his colleagues is a way to hedge the bets.

The lead author of the paper is Hongjin Huang, PhD, associate director of liver diseases at Celera in Alameda, Calif. Huang and her Celera colleagues developed the test by initially scanning the DNA of more than 1,000 people who had hepatitis C. Out of 25,000 genetic variations tested, the researchers discovered seven that could be used together as a "signature" for predicting progression to cirrhosis in Caucasians.

The resulting gene signature - the Cirrhosis Risk Score - was then independently validated on 154 hepatitis C patients at Stanford, the University of Illinois-Chicago and California Pacific Medical Center. Among patients with early-stage liver disease, the researchers were able to divide them into a high-risk category based on their gene pattern, compared with those who had low-risk gene patterns. "The Cirrhosis Risk Score was superior to the known clinical factors, such as alcohol consumption, in predicting the risk of developing cirrhosis," said Cheung.

"This test allows both physicians and patients to make an intelligent decision about the urgency of beginning antiviral therapy," he said. "If a patient turns out to be low-risk, we might advise the patient to consider deferring treatment, avoiding unnecessary side effects and expense of current therapy."

Last June, Celera licensed Specialty Laboratories of Valencia, Calif., to perform the genetic test. The test currently costs about $500.

Mitzi Baker | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>