The New England Journal of Medicine released two studies showing that drug treatments developed in part at the UC Davis Medical Center have high success rates in curing the deadly Hepatitus C virus.
Dr. Lorenzo Rossaro, professor of internal medicine and chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UC Davis headed a clinical study of several new drugs. One of them, telaprevir, was used on Marysville resident Kenneth Harris.
"Within 3 weeks I cleared the virus. That's unheard of," said Harris.
Harris, who was in stage three of the virus that has four stages leading to liver failure, went on with the 48 week drug treatments. He wasn't the only patient that had good results in the UC Davis study.
"The success rate is over 50 to 70%. It's amazing," said Rossaro.
Rossaro said adding just one drug to a treatment program seemed to make a big difference.
"Just all of a sudden we doubled the chance of cure and decrease the duration of therapy," said Rossaro.
Duration of treatment is big because the drugs are powerful and cause side effects that are unbearable for some patients who are forced to stop treatments. The new drug treatments are encouraging.
"We're not talking about therapy for life. We're talking therappy for six to twelve months and then patients are done. They have a very high chance of cure," said Rossaro.
About 650,000 Californians have the Hepatitus C virus. Many don't know it because they can go without symptoms for years. About 20% of those who do develop chronic liver problems go on to experience liver failure or liver cancer. The majority of liver transplants performed today are because of Hepatitus C.
Rossaro says Hepatitus C research has taken a back seat to the HIV virus as far as government funding is concerned. But slowly drugs and techniques have trickled down to the researchers who were trying to find a cure for Hepatitus C.
Kennth Harrris is grateful to UC Davis researchers and credits them for curing him.
"They gave me my live back, they really did," said Harris.