(RxWiki News) Three percent of the world's population are infected with the hepatitis C virus, which is a leading cause of organ transplants, liver cancer and liver-related deaths.
A two continent study indicates that adding two prototype small molecule drugs known as p7 inhibitors to that latest generation of direct acting drugs can be a powerful approach to suppress hepatitis C.
"Great new hepatitis C drugs are in development."
Lead author, Stephen Griffin, M.D.of the University of Leeds School of Medicine, reports that hepatitis C has long been difficult to treat effectively because the virus quickly evolves and becomes resistant to drugs used to treat it. This new class of small molecule drugs, the p7 inhibitors, are able to attack the virus head on.
As has been discovered in this study, the two particular classes of p7 inhibitor - called adamantanes and alkylated imino-sugars – attacked the hepatitis C virus by targeting different parts of the virus. Molecular modelling and lab-based experiments showed how the drugs interacted with hepatitis C.
Importantly, they observed how hepatitis C responded to the two different types of drug and found that each of the responses was quite different.
Dr. Griffin explains that learning how the hepatitis C virus reacts to these molecules allows researchers to design drugs that are likely to be more effective for a longer period of time. Additionally, researchers can now see how drugs can be used in concert with other direct-acting drugs targeting other viral targets.
This is a very similar approach used in the treatment of HIV.
This leads the researchers to assume that the drugs will work well in combination, while tackling the virus on a number of levels.
The study was published in the journal Hepatology.