DAAs prove effective for HCV-infected heart transplant patients

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Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs proved safe and effective for hepatitis C (HCV) patients who had undergone heart transplants, according to new research.

Jia-Horng Kao, MD, PhD, FAASLD, and a team from the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, found that 12 individuals given sofosbuvir combined with ledipasvir (Harvoni) or sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) combined with daclatasvir (Daklinza) achieved a sustained virologic response rate of 100% after 12 weeks.

Interferon-free DAAs have shown excellent efficacy and safety for ordinary patients with chronic HCV infection, the researchers said.

But the effectiveness of these DAAs on heart transplant patients with HCV has not been evaluated, even though the prevalence of the liver-attacking virus among heart recipients ranges from 7% to 18%, according to the study.

Meantime, heart-transplant patients often cannot not tolerate interferon (IFN)-based regimens because of cardiac toxicity and other heart-related problems.

“Because interferon-based therapies have been considered to have low response rates and to be poorly tolerated in heart transplant recipients with HCV infection, novel therapeutic strategies are urgently needed for these patients,” said Kao, president of Taiwan Association for the Study of the Liver (TASL) and chief of the Division of Hepatology/Gastroenterology at the university hospital.

“Our findings provided new evidence that these patients can safely and effectively eradicate HCV by using potent IFN-free agents,” Kao told MD Magazine. “This can greatly improve the long-term health outcome in these patients.”

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Corey Bryant serves as Director of Communications for The Alliance.
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