Currently, determination of sustained virologic response in patients treated for hepatitis C is undetectable hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA 24 weeks after completion of therapy.
However, sensitive molecular tests may permit earlier determination of sustained virologic response following the completion of therapy in end-of-treatment responders.
|Only 2% of patients became HCV RNA positive between weeks 60 and 72.|
|Journal of Hepatology|
In this study, researchers from Germany and North American examined whether this early determination was possible.
The team evaluated 1441 patients. Patients received 48 weeks of treatment with either standard or pegylated interferon alpha -2a.
They determined HCV RNA at baseline, at 4-week intervals throughout treatment, and at 24-week intervals post-treatment, using PCR assay.
The researchers found that end-of-treatment and sustained response were achieved in 624 and 342 patients, respectively.
They determined that, for all treatments, relapse was most frequent at weeks 52 and 56, but was rare after week 60. The team found that only 2% of the 348 patients became HCV RNA positive between weeks 60 and 72.
However, an analysis of baseline characteristics did not identify a specific parameters associated with early relapse.
Dr Stefan Zeuzem's team concluded, "Determination of HCV RNA levels at 12 weeks of follow-up may be sufficient for making decisions related to the management of most patients treated with standard or pegylated interferon alpha".