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Antiviral Slows Hepatitis C Virus After Liver Transplant

Treatment associated with 3.7 odds ratio for fibrosis improvement/stabilization

MONDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- Antiviral therapy slows disease progression in liver transplant patients with recurring hepatitis C virus infection, researchers report in the May issue of Gastroenterology.

Xavier Forns, M.D., of the University of Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues randomized 81 liver transplant patients with recurrent hepatitis C virus infection to either no treatment or peginterferon alfa-2b/ribavirin for 48 weeks to evaluate the effect of therapy on disease progression.

The investigators found that 48 percent of patients with mild recurrence and 18.5 percent with severe recurrence who were treated achieved a sustained virologic response. Fewer patients in these two groups showed fibrosis progression on biopsy than untreated patients (26 and 54 percent versus 70 percent, respectively). Overall, treatment was associated with a 3.7 odds ratio for fibrosis improvement/stabilization.

The data suggest that "antiviral treatment should be indicated before hepatitis C recurrence is too severe, strengthening the relevance of frequent disease assessment," the authors write. "These results should encourage the design of studies aimed at assessing the effect of longer treatment regimens (including maintenance therapy) on hepatitis C recurrence after liver transplantation."

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