In recent years, new drugs have been developed for the treatment of hepatitis C that achieve an excellent response (95%) with little toxicity. The duration of these new treatments ranges from 8 to 24 weeks, depending on the type of virus C (there are 7 genotypes) and the clinical characteristics of each patient (with or without liver cirrhosis and if they have been previously treated or not).
In this month of December, a paper has been published in the Hepatology journal trying to reduce the duration of treatment to 6 weeks. This would improve adherence to treatment and tolerability. Thus, three different drugs, directed against three targets of the hepatitis C virus were administered simultaneously (generally only two targets are used). The study included 108 patients with different types of hepatitis C virus (1, 1b, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and compared the efficacy of the administration of the 3 drugs for 6 weeks versus 8 weeks. It was found that the efficacy was identical, except for patients infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 3.
Expanding the research will offer more reliable results
The tolerance was good, although some patients suffered headache and fatigue. In summary, this new strategy can shorten the duration of treatment of hepatitis C. However, I believe that a much broader study should be done including a larger number of patients to confirm these results. On the other hand, it is essential to continue investigating since, as mentioned above, this combination of drugs is not useful for patients with genotype 3.
In the future it is quite likely that the treatment time will be reduced even more. In this sense, isolated cases of response to new drugs have been reported in only 4 weeks, although new trials have to be carried out in order to optimize treatments.