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ESHG: SNP Linked to Outcomes in Hepatitis C Infection

Finding in IL28B locus associated with progression to chronic hepatitis infection, therapy failure

MONDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the gene encoding for interferon lambda is associated with progression to chronic hepatitis C infection and treatment failure, according to research presented at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics, held from June 12 to 15 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Zoltan Kutalik, Ph.D., of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,362 patients with hepatitis C infection; 1,015 had chronic hepatitis C and 347 spontaneously cleared the virus. In 465 of the chronic patients, responses to pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin were assessed.

The researchers found that chronic hepatitis C was associated with SNPs in the IL28B locus, which encodes interferon-lambda-3, an antiviral cytokine. The minor allele of the SNP that was the top hit was linked to progression to chronic infection (odds ratio, 2.31). This association was seen in subjects with and without HIV co-infection. This SNP was also linked to failure to respond to therapy (odds ratio, 5.19).

"This disease affects up to 300 million people worldwide. It is insidious, and often individuals are not aware that they are infected until serious liver damage has taken place. Finding better treatments is vital. As well as sparing those who would not react well to current treatment from side effects, we hope that our work may provide pointers to the development of effective therapies for the future," Kutalik said in a statement.

Abstract No. C03.6
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