Hope for Hep C cure: No excuse for risk-taking, expert warns

Professor Geoff McCaughan

Exciting early indications of a cure for Hepatitis C do not mean we should become complacent about the risks of contracting the debilitating disease, a leading Australian researcher warns.

Professor Geoff McCaughan, right, head of the Liver Immunobiology Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute of medical research, says preliminary results of a newly developed oral treatment regime for liver transplant patients with Hepatitis C were showing promising results.

Wold Hepatitis Day news:

“We are starting to see some dramatic responses with these drugs,” says Professor McCaughan, who also heads the liver transplant unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

“It’s too early to be certain yet, but these drugs potentially can turn around even end-stage liver disease. It’s looking like they can stop the Hepatitis C virus occurring after a liver transplant, and they can get rid of the virus in people who are waiting for a transplant.

“At present, people with Hepatitis C have the worst outcomes for patients receiving liver transplants. This could dramatically alter that picture.”

Professor Geoff McCaughanLiver diseases, including Hepatitis B and C, have an impact on the Australian economy 40 per cent greater than chronic kidney disease and Type 2 diabetes combined, resulting in a health burden cost of $50 billion a year.

And while the newly developed drugs are showing great promise in the treatment of Hepatitis C, prevention rather than cure remains a much better, and much cheaper, option.

“Public health measures in the fields of alcohol abuse and obesity are key strategies in the fight to reduce the burden of liver disease,” says Prof McCaughan.

Professor McCaughan’s comments came in the run-up to World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, July 28. The WHO sponsored annual event, which began in 2008, aims to raise awareness and funds for research to tackle Hepatitis B and C, which together infect more than 50 million people worldwide.

For those with Hepatitis C, the new oral therapies currently being tested offer a glimmer of hope for an eventual cure.

“This is all very new,” says Professor McCaughan. “There are only about 50 people around the world who are receiving these drugs. We have five of them at RPA – they have been enrolled in this study to eradicate the virus before their transplants to avoid the risk of doing badly afterwards.”

A follow-up study is planned for later this year, which will see another small group of Australian patients receive the drugs.

To donate or find out more about the Centenary Institute’s liver program: click here

For more on World Hepatitis Day at: www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/en/world-hepatitis-day-2013.html

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For comment:

  • Prof Geoff McCaughan on (02) 9565 6125 or 0418212805
  • Dr Nick Shackel, Senior Lecturer, Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology on (02) 9565 6286 or 0434 603 129

Media Contacts:

  • Tamzin Byrne on 0432 974 400 or tamzin@scienceinpublic.com.au
  • Niall Byrne on 0407 131 977 or niall@scienceinpublic.com.au
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  • Stacey Wathan

    My mother had been diagnosed of Hepatitis B disease 3 years ago. She had been using the interferon therapy (Peg-interferon + Ribavirin) which adversely affected her hemoglobin level as she is also thalassemic (a side effect of using the interferon therapy). Luckily after stopping the treatment.

    I read a book by HEALTH MED LAB about natural cures and he recommends these two things as a natural cure for HEPATITIS disease,Hydrogen Peroxide Therapy and Crocodile Protein Peptide. You can Google both of these to get more info. Also, need to do the cleanses,colon, liver, kidney, galbladder. Eat organic foods to get the toxins out of your body so your body can overcome the disease itself.This is important. I am not promoting his book, but I feel it is a must read if you want information on how to beat this awful disease. My mother is now HEPATITIS Negative with his help, Anyway, his email : (healthmedlab@gmail.com) God bless and good luck!