New medication for hepatitis C targeting Africa

Thursday August 3 2017

Researchers at ANRS conducted the first trial

Researchers at ANRS conducted the first trial designed to assess the efficacy and safety of the new hepatitis treatment in sub-Saharan countries. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

By ANGELA OKETCH
More by this Author

Scientists have come up with a new treatment for hepatitis C targeting resource-limited countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Dr Karine Lacombe, an associate professor at Saint-Antrine Hospital, Inserm, France, preliminary results from a trial study by the French National Agency for Research on Aids and Viral Hepatitis (ANRS) show that direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) against hepatitis C can be effective in such countries.

“This argues for broad access to the DAA drugs in countries where the disease has been neglected,” she said, adding that over the past three years, the drug has helped cure 90 patients regardless of their HIV status.

Dr Lacombe made the disclosure at the recent 9th International Aids Society Conference on HIV Science in Paris.

Researchers at ANRS conducted the first trial designed to assess the efficacy and safety of the new hepatitis treatment in sub-Saharan countries.

The trials in Cameroon, Cote d’lvoire and Senegal included 120 patients with chronic hepatitis C who had never been treated for this infection. Each of the three most frequent Hepatitis genotypes (1, 2 and 4) were represented by 40 patients.

Dr Lacombe, who was the lead author of the study, said the results argue strongly that access to DAAs should be extended without delay to all resource-limited countries.
The researchers called upon countries to invest more in screening and allocating funds to purchase the drugs for the treatment of the disease.

“Without access to screening, many people do not test for the disease to be diagnosed, they end up not knowing their status hence not getting treated. This may result in a slow progression of chronic liver disease, cancer, and even death,” said Dr Lacombe.