Hepatitis research hit the headlines in 2014 when a clinical study known as the “Turquoise-II trial” revealed that a new treatment cured more than 90% of patients with hepatitis C with 12 weeks of tablets. This breakthrough does indeed mark a turning point in treatment of the hepatitis C virus – or HCV as it is often called. It’s for that reason that we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on hepatitis C research onWorld Hepatitis Day 2014.
It’s only by doing research that we will make progress in treating diseases. And that’s what’s happening right now with hepatitis C – we’re making rapid progress. Previously, treatment focused on boosting the immune system with interferon injections over six or 12 months. But this approach came with difficult side effects and failed to cure three people in every ten treated.
Thanks to research we now have a revolutionary treatment approach. A new generation of oral drugs are being used to block the virus and stop it from replicating – leading to successful results in nine out of ten cases. This leap forward in treatment not only brings great benefits for HCV patients, it also means that we now have a real prospect of eradicating hepatitis C from the population – without using a vaccine.
Of course we must be mindful that there are many variations of viral hepatitis. Each requires completely different treatments. But hepatitis C is one of the two biggest killers, hepatitis B being the other. World Hepatitis Day provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness about the new generation of treatments in development, whilst highlighting the important role that UK research plays in combating worldwide diseases. We are now seeing patients being cured where previous treatments failed – the impact that has on people’s lives is phenomenal.
The Turquoise-II trial is just one of many clinical research studies looking at these new drugs. On these webpages you’ll find out more about how we’re working together to beat hepatitis C.
*Please note that patient names used are not real names
Hepatology research isn’t just about hepatitis; it covers all diseases of the liver, biliary tree and pancreas. The Hepatology Specialty supports research across all of these areas. You can find out more by visiting the other Hepatology Specialty webpages and you can learn about how we support clinical research studies in the NHS by visiting the Clinical Research Network webpages.
The Hepatology Specialty members have helped deliver a number of initiatives over recent years to help boost hepatology research so that more studies happen and more patients can take part: