A Cure for Hepatitis C?

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) recently conducted and presented a study on pegylated interferon alfa-2a (PEGASYS) and its ability to eradicate the Hepatitis C virus from its patients. However, because of the misleading words spoken by a lead investigator involved in the study, many people believed a cure for all Hepatitis C patients had, at last, been found.

In order to establish whether or not Hepatitis C reemerges in patients who have achieved success through treatment with PEGASYS or a combination of PEGASYS and ribavirin, researchers at VCU monitored blood levels of hundreds of HCV infected and HCV/HIV co-infected patients who had already realized treatment success. Of the nearly 1,000 patients whose HCV blood levels were reviewed for an average of four years after achieving sustained virologic response (SVR), more than 99 percent had maintained undetectable levels of the virus.

While these results suggest that SVR may be permanent, many newly hopeful Hepatitis C patients remain unaware of the study’s complete details. Do these results actually signify a cure for HCV has been found?

To help clarify, the outcome from VCU’s study means that patients who achieve sustained virologic response with PEGASYS therapy have a 99 percent chance of being cured of Hepatitis C. What these results do not mean is that anyone with the infectious virus can, at the present time, be cured. This is largely due to the fact that combination therapy is not always effective for the most common type of Hepatitis C in the U.S., genotype 1, and also does not take into account all those who cannot complete treatment or have it modified due to its side effects.

Since not everyone with HCV achieves SVR after enduring PEGASYS therapy, the pharmaceutical industry continuously tries to develop new and effective treatments. The Hepatitis C community continues to eagerly await news that this liver-damaging virus can indeed be cured.

To read this entire article and learn more specific information about genotypes and success rates of combination therapy, click here.