Could Hepatitis C Be Cured in Less Than a Month?

HCV drug combination may cut treatment time by 75%.

HCV drug combination may cut treatment time by 75%.

The advent of direct-acting antiviral drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have proven to be lifesaving for millions of patients.

With cure rates in excess of 90% for a 12-week treatment course that carries limited side effects, new treatments like Sovaldi, Harvoni, and Viekira Pak have been a dream for individuals infected with HCV.

But could there be an even shorter treatment duration than 12 weeks with similar efficacy? A recent study suggests HCV may actually be cured within less than a month.

Published in Science, the results of a small Chinese study indicate HCV may potentially be cured in just 3 weeks, reducing treatment time by 75%.

The findings could lead to less expensive treatments that prevent the additional spread of patients with HCV. Gaining approval for the new generation of HCV drugs has proven difficult for the majority of patients, with some treatments costing upwards of $84,000.

The study, scheduled to be presented this month at The Liver Meeting in San Francisco, evaluated 18 individuals infected with HCV who received different drug combinations for 3 weeks.

The study evaluated 3 different combinations of the most effective direct-acting antiviral drugs that target different HCV enzymes or proteins key in viral replication.

These combinations included sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and either ledipasvir or daclatasvir. Add-ons to these combinations were either of 2 HCV protease inhibitors, simeprevir or asunaprevir.

The patients in the study were effectively cured at 12 weeks after the start of treatment with no signs of HCV.

Limitations to the study include a small sample size and the fact that none of the patients had liver cirrhosis, which indicates a group of patients who will respond well to treatment.