New hope for hepatitis C victims
Drug may reduce viral infection affecting millions, study finds

LONDON - A new drug that prevents a contagious virus from duplicating in the body could be a new weapon against hepatitis C, a disease that could kill more people than AIDS, scientists said on Sunday.


MORE THAN 170 million people around the globe are infected with the virus that can cause permanent liver damage and in many cases death.
There is no vaccine against the hepatitis C virus (HVC) and current treatments can cause unwanted side effects.
But scientists working for the German drugs giant Boehringer Ingelheim have developed a drug that could offer new hope to patients with the illness.
Called BILN 2061, the drug targets an enzyme to block the replication of the virus. In eight people given four doses of the treatment viral loads, or the amount of virus in the blood, dropped by 100 to 1,000 fold after 48 hours without producing any unpleasant reactions in the patients.
"The antiviral results of protease inhibitor BILN 2061 in a proof-of-concept human trial clearly demonstrate the great potential of selective and anti-HCV agents," Daniel Lamarre, of the company research centre in Laval, Canada, said in a report published online by the science journal Nature.
BILN 2061 is the first of a class of drugs called NS3 protease inhibitors to be tested in humans.

more ...