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New Treatment for Chronic Hepatitis C Leads to Less Side Effects
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A study result made public Monday by the Chinese University of Hong Kong reveals that combination of interferon beta-1a and ribavirin treatment for chronic hepatitis C creates less side effects.

Chronic hepatitis C is an important cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Currently, the standard treatment of chronic hepatitis C is combination of peginterferon-alfa and ribavirin, which, however, leads to common adverse effects including fever and flu-like symptoms, injection site reaction, depression and bone marrow suppression. This decreases patients' compliance and in turn reduces the treatment effect, the university said.

The university hence carried out a three-year study to assess the use of interferon beta-1a and its combination with ribavirin in the treatment of Asian chronic hepatitis C patients.

About 250 Asian chronic hepatitis C patients with active disease were recruited and randomly assigned into two groups which received placebo treatment and interferon beta-1a plus ribavirin combination treatment respectively for 12 weeks, it said.

The result shows that interferon beta-1a and ribavirin combination treatment can achieve a similar rate of viral clearance but a low rate of adverse event and patient discontinuation as compared to the existing peginterferon-alfa based treatment.

The university recommended that interferon-beta-1 and ribavirin combination treatment be considered as an alternative to the existing peginterferon-alfa based therapy for Asian patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2007)

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