CHICAGO: A new drug offers promise of helping to cure patients suffering from Hepatitis C and other liver diseases who otherwise would not have been able to get treatment, a study released has found.
The drug also appears to be an effective treatment for a common blood disorder which causes bruising and excessive bleeding, according to a second study which was also published in the New England Journal of Medicine . It could also eventually be used to help in cancer treatment.
The drug, called eltrombopag, serves to boost blood platelet counts, a critical component to blood clotting.
When platelet counts get too low there is a risk of serious bleeding. Patients with low platelet counts are often either deemed unfit for treatment or must receive costly and complex transfusions prior to undergoing surgery.
This is particularly problematic in the estimated 170 million patients worldwide infected with the Hepatitis C virus. The potentially fatal virus damages the liver and can also cripple the body’s ability to manufacture platelets.
Only about half of those diagnosed are able to be cured with standard antiviral treatments.
“There’s this huge group of patients with Hepatitis C where we try to treat them and their platelet counts drop or we’re afraid to treat them,” said lead author John McHutchison, an Australian researcher at Duke University in North Carolina on Wednesday.
“For 20 years of looking after people with liver disease we’ve watched their platelet counts and never had a drug that could treat that,” he said in a telephone interview.
Sources: The Times Of India