The team examined the use of high-dose induction followed by combination interferon (IFN) and ribavirin therapy in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1.
The findings of the study were published in the July issue of the Journal of Hepatology.
In the past it has been found that the majority of patients with genotype 1 do not respond to IFN plus ribavirin.
Some 28 patients, infected with genotype 1 HCV, were included in the prospective study.
Each was randomized to either daily or twice daily high-dose IFN for 6 weeks. This was followed by standard therapy of 3 million units 3 times a week in combination with ribavirin, for an additional 42 weeks.
HCV RNA was quantified before and frequently during treatment.
The researchers found that the best correlate of response was the infected cell loss rate.
|50% of patients infected with HCV genotype 1 sustained response to treatment.
| Journal of Hepatology |
Sixteen patients continued on the study because they had at least a 2 log drop in their HCV RNA levels by week 12; all but one of the patients were PCR-negative for HCV RNA at 48 weeks.
Furthermore, 14 of these 16 patients continued to be PCR-negative at 72 weeks.
Both of the two African-Americans in the trial failed to respond to therapy, and differences were evident during the induction phase.
Hugo R. Rosen, of the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, said on behalf of his colleagues, "This randomized study of induction IFN therapy followed by combination IFN plus ribavirin yielded the highest rate of sustained response (50%) reported to date in chronically HCV-infected patients with genotype 1."
"The predictive value of the infected cell loss rate needs to be evaluated prospectively in larger studies, particularly in patients receiving pegylated IFN," he concluded.