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Hepatitis C Drugs Decreased Liver-Related Deaths By Almost Half

According to a new study, the antiviral drugs for hepatitis C decrease the liver-related mortality by almost 50% in people having a medical history of liver cancer. The researchers from the UTSW (University of Texas Southwestern) discovered that antiviral drugs do not augment the perils of liver cancer recurrence, as it was earlier feared. The new study was conducted by Dr. Amit Singal (Associate Professor from the UTSW) and Dr. Caitlin Murphy (Assistant Professor of Population and Data Sciences) and was reported in the journal Gastroenterology. Their study invalidated past misconceptions that made physicians hesitant to recommend direct-acting antivirals to cure hepatitis C in people having a history of liver cancer.

Earlier, many doctors believed that hepatitis C triggers the immune system when it contaminates the liver, and the immune system kept liver cancer reappearance at bay. But this belief appeared to be false as the researchers studied almost 800 patients across the country and discovered that the medications are safe and they decrease mortality from liver cancer, cirrhosis by 46%. Dr. Singal said, “Not only these drugs harmless in this patient population but also they are helpful. Dr. Murphy stated the earlier studies had the misinterpretations of direct-acting antiviral therapy as they—among other several things—were unsuccessful to account for the time of therapy in relation to the liver cancer diagnosis.

Recently, the UTSW was in the news as its team developed a test to identify immunotherapy response in kidney cancer. The investigators from the UTSW’s Medical Center Kidney Cancer Program have developed a novel test to remove kidney cancers that might respond to checkpoint inhibitors. The tactic involved changing an immunotherapy drug (atezolizumab) into a diagnostic tracer. Atezolizumab is used to cure breast, lung, and bladder cancer. It binds and disables PD-L1—which is a protein that is displayed on cancer cells’ surface to turn off approaching killer immune cells.

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