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Concept: Hepatitis C virus

326

Patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and cirrhosis have higher risk for liver-related complications and have historically been more difficult to cure than patients without cirrhosis. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir and dasabuvir, without ribavirin, for 12 weeks in patients with HCV GT1b infection and compensated cirrhosis.

Concepts: Hepatitis A, Wilson's disease, Hepatitis C virus, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Hepatitis B, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Hepatitis C

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Background A simple treatment regimen that is effective in a broad range of patients who are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains an unmet medical need. Methods We conducted a phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving untreated and previously treated patients with chronic HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6 infection, including those with compensated cirrhosis. Patients with HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, or 6 were randomly assigned in a 5:1 ratio to receive the nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir and the NS5A inhibitor velpatasvir in a once-daily, fixed-dose combination tablet or matching placebo for 12 weeks. Because of the low prevalence of genotype 5 in the study regions, patients with genotype 5 did not undergo randomization but were assigned to the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group. The primary end point was a sustained virologic response at 12 weeks after the end of therapy. Results Of the 624 patients who received treatment with sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, 34% had HCV genotype 1a, 19% genotype 1b, 17% genotype 2, 19% genotype 4, 6% genotype 5, and 7% genotype 6. A total of 8% of patients were black, 19% had cirrhosis, and 32% had been previously treated for HCV. The rate of sustained virologic response among patients receiving sofosbuvir-velpatasvir was 99% (95% confidence interval, 98 to >99). Two patients receiving sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, both with HCV genotype 1, had a virologic relapse. None of the 116 patients receiving placebo had a sustained virologic response. Serious adverse events were reported in 15 patients (2%) in the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group and none in the placebo group. Conclusions Once-daily sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for 12 weeks provided high rates of sustained virologic response among both previously treated and untreated patients infected with HCV genotype 1, 2, 4, 5, or 6, including those with compensated cirrhosis. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02201940 .).

Concepts: Hepatitis, Infection, DNA, Medical terms, Hepatitis C virus, Placebo, Clinical trial, Hepatitis C

178

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of liver-related morbidity and mortality (1). Transmission of HCV is primarily via parenteral blood exposure, and HCV can be transmitted vertically from mother to child. Vertical transmission occurs in 5.8% (95% confidence interval = 4.2%-7.8%) of infants born to women who are infected only with HCV and in up to twice as many infants born to women who are also infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (2) or who have high HCV viral loads (3,4); there is currently no recommended intervention to prevent transmission of infection from mother to child (3). Increased reported incidence of HCV infection among persons aged ≤30 years (5,6) with similar increases among women and men in this age group (6), raises concern about increases in the number of pregnant women with HCV infection, and in the number of infants who could be exposed to HCV at birth. Data from one large commercial laboratory and birth certificate data were used to investigate trends in HCV detection among women of childbearing age,* HCV testing among children aged ≤2 years, and the proportions of infants born to HCV-infected women nationally and in Kentucky, the state with the highest incidence of acute HCV infection during 2011-2014 (6). During 2011-2014, commercial laboratory data indicated that national rates of HCV detection (antibody or RNA positivity(†)) among women of childbearing age increased 22%, and HCV testing (antibody or RNA) among children aged ≤2 years increased 14%; birth certificate data indicated that the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected mothers increased 68%, from 0.19% to 0.32%. During the same time in Kentucky, the HCV detection rate among women of childbearing age increased >200%, HCV testing among children aged ≤2 years increased 151%, and the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected women increased 124%, from 0.71% to 1.59%. Increases in the rate of HCV detection among women of childbearing age suggest a potential risk for vertical transmission of HCV. These findings highlight the importance of following current CDC recommendations to identify, counsel, and test persons at risk for HCV infection (1,7), including pregnant women, as well as consider developing public health policies for routine HCV testing of pregnant women, and expanding current policies for testing and monitoring children born to HCV-infected women. Expansion of HCV reporting and surveillance requirements will enhance case identification and prevention strategies.

Concepts: Hepatitis C virus, Immune system, Mother, Fetus, Infection, Pregnancy, Hepatitis C, Childbirth

176

Hepatitis C is associated with more deaths in the United States than 60 other infectious diseases reported to CDC combined. Despite curative hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapies and known preventive measures to interrupt transmission, new HCV infections have increased in recent years (1,2). Injection drug use is the primary risk factor for new HCV infections (2). One potential strategy to decrease the prevalence of HCV is to create and strengthen public health laws and policies aimed specifically at reducing transmission risks among persons who inject drugs. To evaluate factors affecting access to HCV preventive and treatment services, CDC assessed state laws governing access to safe injection equipment and Medicaid policies related to sobriety requirements for approval of HCV treatment for persons who inject drugs. Acute HCV incidence rates were obtained from CDC’s National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS). States were categorized based on analysis of laws related to access to clean needles and syringes and Medicaid HCV treatment policies associated with sobriety requirements. In 2015, HCV incidence remained high in the United States, with rates in 17 states exceeding the national average. Three states were determined to have state laws and Medicaid policies capable of comprehensively preventing and treating HCV among persons who inject drugs. Opportunities exist for states to adopt laws and policies that could help increase access to HCV preventive and treatment services reducing the number of persons at risk for HCV transmission and disease.

Concepts: Hepatitis C virus, Infection, U.S. state, Disease, Infectious disease, United States, Epidemiology, Hepatitis C

170

Genetic variation in the IL28B gene has been strongly associated with treatment outcomes, spontaneous clearance and progression of the hepatitis C virus infection (HCV). The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of polymorphisms at this locus with progression and outcome of HCV infection in a Moroccan population.

Concepts: Evolution, Hepatitis C virus, Bacteria, Virus, DNA, Gene, Genetics, Hepatitis C

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Phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase type IIIα (PI4KA) is a host factor essential for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and hence is a target for drug development. PI4KA has also been linked to ER-exit sites and generation of plasma membrane phosphoinositides. Here we developed highly specific and potent inhibitors of PI4KA and conditional knockout mice to study the importance of this enzyme in vitro and in vivo. Our studies showed that PI4KA is essential for the maintenance of plasma membrane PtdIns(4,5)P2 pools but only during strong stimulation of receptors coupled to PLC activation. Pharmacological blockade of PI4KA in adult animals leads to sudden death closely correlating with the drugs ability to induce PtdIns(4,5)P2 depletion after agonist stimulation. Genetic inactivation of PI4KA also leads to death, however, the cause in this case is due to severe intestinal necrosis. These studies highlight the risks of targeting PI4KA as an anti HCV strategy and also point to important distinctions between genetic and pharmacological studies when selecting host factors as putative therapeutic targets.

Concepts: Drug, Protein, In vivo, In vitro, Target Corporation, Hepatitis C virus, Pharmacology, Hepatitis C

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BACKGROUND: Wuwei City has the highest prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in China. From 2007 to 2011, the average reported incidence rate of hepatitis B was 634.56/100,000 people. However, studies assessing the epidemic features and risk factors of HCV in the general population of Wuwei City are limited. METHODS: A total of 7189 people were interviewed and screened for HCV antibodies. HCV RNA and HCV genotypes were analyzed by PCR. Relevant information was obtained from the general population using a standardized questionnaire, and association and logistic regression analyses were conducted. RESULTS: The anti-HCV prevalence was 1.64% (118/7189), and HCV-RNA was detected in 37.29% (44/118) of the anti-HCV positive samples. The current HCV infection rate was 0.61% (44/7189) in the Wuwei general population. Hepatitis C infection rate was generally higher in the plains regions (χ(2) = 27.54,P<0.05), and the most predominant HCV genotypes were 2a (59.1%) and 1b (34.1%). The concurrent HCV and HBV infection rate was 1.37%, and a history of blood transfusion (OR = 17.9, 95% CI: 6.1 to 52.6, p<0.001) was an independent risk factor for HCV positivity. CONCLUSIONS: Although Wuwei is a highly endemic area for HBV, the anti-HCV positive rate in the general population is low. More than one-third of HCV-infected people were unaware of their infection; this may become an important risk factor for hepatitis C prevalence in the general population. Maintaining blood safety is important in order to help reduce the burden of HCV infection in developing regions of China.

Concepts: Hepatitis, Medical statistics, Regression analysis, Hepatitis C virus, Blood transfusion, Epidemiology, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C

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Background The stability and propagation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is dependent on a functional interaction between the HCV genome and liver-expressed microRNA-122 (miR-122). Miravirsen is a locked nucleic acid-modified DNA phosphorothioate antisense oligonucleotide that sequesters mature miR-122 in a highly stable heteroduplex, thereby inhibiting its function. Methods In this phase 2a study at seven international sites, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of miravirsen in 36 patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. The patients were randomly assigned to receive five weekly subcutaneous injections of miravirsen at doses of 3 mg, 5 mg, or 7 mg per kilogram of body weight or placebo over a 29-day period. They were followed until 18 weeks after randomization. Results Miravirsen resulted in a dose-dependent reduction in HCV RNA levels that endured beyond the end of active therapy. In the miravirsen groups, the mean maximum reduction in HCV RNA level (log10 IU per milliliter) from baseline was 1.2 (P=0.01) for patients receiving 3 mg per kilogram, 2.9 (P=0.003) for those receiving 5 mg per kilogram, and 3.0 (P=0.002) for those receiving 7 mg per kilogram, as compared with a reduction of 0.4 in the placebo group. During 14 weeks of follow-up after treatment, HCV RNA was not detected in one patient in the 5-mg group and in four patients in the 7-mg group. We observed no dose-limiting adverse events and no escape mutations in the miR-122 binding sites of the HCV genome. Conclusions The use of miravirsen in patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection showed prolonged dose-dependent reductions in HCV RNA levels without evidence of viral resistance. (Funded by Santaris Pharma; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01200420 .).

Concepts: Antisense therapy, Genetics, Virus, Gene, Hepatitis C virus, RNA, DNA, Hepatitis C

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Background As the population that is infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) ages, the number of patients with decompensated cirrhosis is expected to increase. Methods We conducted a phase 3, open-label study involving both previously treated and previously untreated patients infected with HCV genotypes 1 through 6 who had decompensated cirrhosis (classified as Child-Pugh-Turcotte class B). Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1:1 ratio to receive the nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir and the NS5A inhibitor velpatasvir once daily for 12 weeks, sofosbuvir-velpatasvir plus ribavirin for 12 weeks, or sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for 24 weeks. The primary end point was a sustained virologic response at 12 weeks after the end of therapy. Results Of the 267 patients who received treatment, 78% had HCV genotype 1, 4% genotype 2, 15% genotype 3, 3% genotype 4, and less than 1% genotype 6; no patients had genotype 5. Overall rates of sustained virologic response were 83% (95% confidence interval [CI], 74 to 90) among patients who received 12 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, 94% (95% CI, 87 to 98) among those who received 12 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir plus ribavirin, and 86% (95% CI, 77 to 92) among those who received 24 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir. Post hoc analysis did not detect any significant differences in rates of sustained virologic response among the three study groups. Serious adverse events occurred in 19% of patients who received 12 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, 16% of those who received 12 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir plus ribavirin, and 18% of those who received 24 weeks of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir. The most common adverse events were fatigue (29%), nausea (23%), and headache (22%) in all patients and anemia (31%) in the patients receiving ribavirin. Conclusions Treatment with sofosbuvir-velpatasvir with or without ribavirin for 12 weeks and with sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for 24 weeks resulted in high rates of sustained virologic response in patients with HCV infection and decompensated cirrhosis. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; ASTRAL-4 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02201901 .).

Concepts: Genotype, Genetics, Infection, Hepatitis, DNA, Hepatitis C virus, Clinical trial, Hepatitis C

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New hepatitis C virus (HCV) medicines have markedly improved treatment efficacy and regimen tolerability. However, their high prices have limited access, prompting wide debate about fair and affordable prices. This study systematically compared the price and affordability of sofosbuvir and ledipasvir/sofosbuvir across 30 countries to assess affordability to health systems and patients.

Concepts: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis, Efficacy, Price, Cost, Medicine, Hepatitis C virus, Hepatitis C