“Good news” and “hepatitis C” rarely collide in the same sentence, but a new study is showing that for those with hepatitis C requiring a liver transplant, a hep C positive liver won’t present a problem. This could, quite simply, reduce the waiting time for those with the virus in need of a new liver.
Hepatitis C is having a bad week
Okay, I recognize that viruses likely don’t have feelings or any pernicious need to infect as many as they can, but that is precisely what they are designed to do. A new study presented on Thursday at the International Liver Congress in Barcelona, Spain suggests that if you’re hepatitis C-infected (HCV-positive), you can still benefit from a hepatitis C-infected liver being transplanted into your body.
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More than 15,000 people in the United States are on the liver transplant waiting list, and about 16% won’t live long enough to see a new liver according to notes that accompanied the news. It’s important to point out that this new information was not published in a peer-reviewed journal but simply expounded on at the aforementioned congress.
While it’s far from ideal to get a liver transplant, much less a new liver that is C-infected (HCV-positive), the use of these livers in transplants has increased three-fold over the last two decades and it could continue to rise. Following the analysis of data from nearly 45,000 people with hepatitis C who received new livers, and the 6% who received hepatitis C positive livers, it doesn’t appear that there was any difference in mortality rates for those that received HCV-positive livers.
“Over the past two decades, mainly due to shortages in organs, the use of HCV-positive organs for liver transplantation has tripled,” said study author Dr. Zobair Younossi, chairman of the department of medicine at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Va.
“Our study clearly shows that people with HCV who received HCV-positive livers had the same medium- to long-term outcomes as people that received healthy livers. As highly effective treatments for HCV are available for transplanted patients, the future of these patients is bright,” Younossi continued in his release that accompanied the presentation.
In the same news release, Tom Hemming Karlsen, vice secretary of the European Association for the Study of the Liver said, “With the number of people waiting for a liver transplant expected to rise, the study results should give hope over the coming years for those on the waiting list.”
Hep C, HIV dual vaccine?
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford gives the world a glimmer of hope suggesting that an HIV/HCV vaccine could be a possibility in the near future.
“This study shows for the first time that it is possible to generate simultaneous immune response against diseases HCV and HIV, raising the possibility of a combined vaccination,” Professor Laurent Castera, EASL Secretary General, said in a press release this week.
“While we have drugs to treat both HIV and HCV, these are out of reach for many and do not prevent reinfection,” said Professor Lucy Dorrell of the University of Oxford and lead author of the study published
“Knowing that it may be possible to vaccinate a single individual against both diseases opens up huge possibilities for rolling back epidemics of disease and co-infection,” Professor Ellie Barnes, co-author of the study that was also presented in Barcelona this week.