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Novel therapy combinations gain ground in treating hepatitis

LOS ANGELES (May 21, 2006) - According to recent estimates, hepatitis has become a worldwide health problem, affecting millions of people in the U.S. and abroad. Researchers are experimenting with combinations of anti-inflammatory medicines like interferons to improve hepatitis symptoms. In research presented today at Digestive Disease Week 2006 (DDW), new combinations of therapies are making significant progress to improve symptoms of the disease. DDW is the largest international gathering of physicians and researchers in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery.

Hepatitis is caused by a virus that attacks the liver, triggering painful inflammation and often leading to more serious conditions like liver failure and even death. Several different forms of hepatitis exist, including hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis A is generally food-borne, while hepatitis B and C are spread primarily through parenteral or sexual routes. The disease is often caused by a virus, but can also result from alcohol, toxins or drugs.

"Despite the significant number of people suffering from hepatitis, treatment options have been lagging in comparison to other major diseases," said John Vierling, M.D., FACP, president, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD); professor of Medicine and Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas; and director of Baylor Liver Health and Chief of Hepatology. "We hope that continued research like these studies will lead to more significant breakthroughs and relief for these patients."

Valopicitabine (NM283), Alone or with Peg-Interferon, Compared to Peg Interferon/Ribavirin (pegIFN/RBV) Retreatment in Hepatitis C Patients with Prior Non-Response to PegIFN/RBV: Week 24 Results [Abstract 4]

More than half of currently treated hepatitis patients are infected with strains of hepatitis C that do not respond to current interferon therapies a
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Contact: Aimee Frank
newsroom@gastro.org
213-743-6219
American Gastroenterological Association
21-May-2006


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