Researchers develop screen for drug—resistant form of hepatitis C drug

A project by researchers at the University of British Columbia has developed a screening process to ensure that an effective but expensive treatment for hepatitis C (HCV) will be given to only those patients who would benefit from it.

Simeprevir is one of the most effective treatments to eliminate HCV infection. When used in combination with two other agents (interferon and ribavirin), however, almost a quarter of US HCV patients were found to have variants of the virus, with a mutation called Q80K, that responded less well to this therapy.

Without an effective screening procedure for this variant, some HCV patients would receive drugs that are of no or little clinical benefit to them.

To avoid that scenario, Richard Harrigan, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine and Director of the Laboratory Program at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, in partnership with Janssen Inc., the manufacturer of simeprevir, used population-based DNA sequencing to develop and validate a simeprevir screening test.

Click here to read the full story