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Identification of specific genes predicts which patients will respond to Hepatitis C treatment

For the first time, physicians at University Health Network and University of Toronto have identified a small subset of genes that can predict whether a patient with chronic Hepatitis C will be able to respond to current treatments.

These genes could also become the basis of a simple new test in the future to predict which patients will respond to therapy.

The study, published in the May issue of the American Gastroenterological Association's Gastroenterology, found that the difference between those patients who responded to treatment and those who did not was the level of expression whether the genes were turned on or turned off - of 18 genes.

"Our results demonstrate that a relatively small number of genes can predict response to therapy. These genes may be important to the ability of the patient to eliminate the virus, so studying these genes in more detail will hopefully lead to novel antiviral treatments," said Dr. Ian McGilvray, the senior author of the study. Dr. McGilvray is a transplant surgeon at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network and an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto. "By manipulating the products of these genes we might be able to improve treatment responses to this chronic disease."

"This information is helpful for patients because it's one more piece of evidence that we hope will encourage 'responder' patients to start and continue treatment for Hepatitis C, despite it's many side effects," said Dr. Jenny Heathcote, a hepatologist at Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network and Professor of Medicine at University of Toronto, who contributed to the study and treats many of the patients in the study. "We want to be able to give patients as much information as we can, so that they can make the best decisions about their treatment options."

Tony Angelini, 42, was one of the patients in the study who responded to treatment. He is now clear of t
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Contact: Alex Radkewycz
alexandra.radkewycz@uhn.on.ca
416-340-3895
University of Toronto
2-May-2005


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