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Hepatitis C: Latest Medical Breakthroughs

Wednesday, 02 Mar 2011 12:37 PM

What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It is difficult for the human immune system to eliminate the virus from the body as the infection usually becomes chronic. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis infection damages the liver and can cause liver failure in some people.

Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Although hepatitis C damages the liver, 80% of people with the disease do not have symptoms. In those who do, symptoms may not appear for 10 to 20 years, or even longer. Even then, the symptoms usually come and go, and are mild and vague. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms appear, the damage may be very serious. A minority of people have symptoms during the early acute phase of the infection.

People mostly have one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Yellowish eyes and skin, called jaundice
  • A longer-than-usual amount of time for bleeding to stop
  • Swollen stomach or ankles
  • Easy bruising
  • Tiredness
  • Upset stomach
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Light-colored stools
  • Dark yellow urine

Treatment for Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is not treated unless it becomes chronic. Chronic hepatitis C is treated with drugs that slow or stop the virus from damaging the liver.

Latest Medical Breakthroughs:

Scientists have found that a small genetic change can help predict how people infected with hepatitis C react to treatment.

Researchers at the OU Health Sciences Center have found a new use for an old drug. This research is the first to demonstrate the antiviral activity of Fluvastatin in human beings infected with hepatitis C, most of whom were non-responders to the standard of care treatment.

Recent studies have found that the screening system enables researchers to study the effects of molecules that obstruct all aspects of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle.

Academics at the University of Leeds have found medications like the anti-diabetic drug Metformin and the obesity drug AICAR, which can prevent the hepatitis C virus from replicating in the body.

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