The combined treatment regimen is considered the best available treatment for adults with chronic hepatitis C, but until now, no published studies have examined its value of for children. To address this lack of information, researchers, led by Stefan Wirth of HELIOS Children's Hospital Wuppertal, Germany sought to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of the therapy in infected children based on HCV genotype, liver enzyme tests, and route of disease transmission.
The researchers recruited 62 children ranging in age from 2 to 17 years, of mixed genders and races, all with chronic hepatitis C. Researchers determined their HCV genotype, mode of infection, and liver enzyme levels, then initiated the therapy that included a weekly subcutaneous dose of peginterferon-alfa-2b and a daily oral dose of ribavirin. All 62 completed the therapy according to the study protocol, save one who dropped out after developing an allergic reaction at the injection site.
Twelve months later, 39 of the 61 patients (64 percent) had undetectable levels of HCV RNA. Three of these responders relapsed during the 6-month follow-up period, but 36 (59 percent) remained HCV-free. All of the children with HCV genotype 2 or 3 achieved a persistent sustained viral response, in contrast to the fewer than half of the patients with HCV genotype 1. The study also showed that children who had been infected via needle (for example, from a blood transfus
Contact: David Greenberg
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