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J Infect Chemother. 2006 Oct;12(5):227-32. Epub 2006 Nov 6.

Antiviral treatment of hepatitis C: present status and future prospects.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Internal Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8655, Japan.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic hepatitis. A substantial proportion of patients with chronic hepatitis C eventually develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Therefore, efficient antiviral treatments for HCV have long been needed. A recently developed combination therapy of pegylated interferon and ribavirin has dramatically improved the outcome of antiviral therapy for HCV infection. In genotype 1b HCV infection, 48 weeks of the combination therapy achieved eradication of the virus in 50% of patients, and in genotype 2 HCV infection, 24 weeks of the therapy resulted in viral eradication in 80%-90% of patients. By this eradication, an improvement in the hepatic fibrosis, an inhibition of HCC development, and an improvement in life expectancy were attained. Patients who did not respond to the combination therapy may be treated with long-term interferon monotherapy, which is not intended to eradicate HCV, but will lower the serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level. Thus, the treatment for HCV infection has progressed significantly, but therapies with new modalities, such as inhibitors of viral protease or RNA polymerase, are still being awaited.

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