More Effective Hepatitis Drugs Needed, Math Model Predicts

New model maps the relationships among baseline infection, rates of infection and drug efficacy

MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- A new mathematical model indicates that more efficacious drugs are needed to overcome severe hepatitis infection and trigger a sustained-virologic response (SVR), especially for those with cirrhosis, according to a report in the April issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

Harel Dahari, Ph.D., of University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues examined the relationship between baseline hepatitis C virus-RNA levels, rate of infection, and SVR using a computer simulation of 1,000 hepatitis C virus patients with a random assignment of viral and host characteristics. The predictions of the computer model were compared with clinical data from 170 non-cirrhotic and 75 cirrhotic hepatitis C virus patients.

Higher baseline hepatitis C virus-RNA levels (greater than 6 log IU/mL) required a higher critical-drug efficacy in order to reduce infection, and also correlated to a lower SVR rate, the investigators found. While cirrhotic patients had lower baseline viral loads (less than 6 log IU/mL) in the model, they also had lower SVR rates believed caused by high infection rates and a greater percentage of infected hepatocytes.

"With regard to antiviral therapy, the model indicates that the use of drugs with higher effectiveness will be important in improving SVR in patients with cirrhosis. Preliminary investigations of new small molecules for the treatment of hepatitis C virus appear promising. The model also suggests that the development of agents capable of reducing the infection-rate constant by blocking viral entry into hepatocytes could be particularly beneficial in slowing down the development of advanced liver disease," the authors write.

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