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May 9, 2012

New Genetic Discoveries and Treatment for Hepatitis C

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Genomics Group, Office of Clinical Pharmacology, Office of Translational Sciences, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, US Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland.

JAMA. 2012;307(18):1921-1922. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3516

Treatment of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) is a prototype for personalized medicine. Combination therapy with peginterferon alfa plus ribavirin was the standard of care for more than a decade. Greater understanding of the disease and determinants of treatment response have improved sustained virologic response (SVR) rates from less than 10% with interferon alfa in the 1990s to more than 80% with contemporary triple therapy regimens that include direct acting antivirals (DAAs) (Figure). Patient-specific factors such as viral genotype and early on-treatment responses are considered in therapeutic individualization. New approaches to search the human genome for predictors of drug response led to the discovery that single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the host IL28B gene are among the strongest predictors of response to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. This Viewpoint discusses the evolution of CHC pharmacogenetics, its real-time incorporation into recent regulatory science evaluations, and its application in future drug development.

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