HepCInfo Updates

HepCInfoUpdate 7.17 

Welcome to CATIE's HepCInfo Update 7.17 for September 3 to September 16, 2016. Read on to learn more about new and updated scientific findings in hepatitis C prevention, care, treatment and support.

New and noteworthy

Hepatitis C vaccine development progressing but faces barriers

One promising hepatitis C vaccine is in clinical trials but overall hepatitis C vaccine development has been challenged by many barriers, reported researchers at the 5th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2016).

While widespread coverage of harm reduction programs and hepatitis C testing and treatment have the potential of eliminating the hepatitis C virus, a hepatitis C vaccine would be an important additional tool. Vaccines have been key in eradicating or decreasing other types of infections worldwide.  

Some of the challenges to hepatitis C vaccine development include:

  • The hepatitis C virus has wide genetic variability, which makes it hard to develop a vaccine that is effective against all strains of the virus
  • It is dangerous to use the whole hepatitis C virus to make a vaccine because it may cause an infection

A new study called VIP (Vaccine is prevention) in the US is examining the effectiveness of a vaccine in 540 people who use injection drugs. Participants will receive the vaccine (called AdCh3NSmut) at the start of the study and a booster eight weeks later (called MVAN smut booster).

Participants will be followed for 88 weeks to assess safety, hepatitis C specific immune responses and effectiveness in preventing hepatitis C. The initial results are expected in early 2017.

 (HIVandhepatitis.com, September 2016)

Being cured from hepatitis C reduces fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of hepatitis C but being cured significantly reduces the likelihood of experiencing fatigue, reported researchers at the 5th International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU 2016).

The study included 56 participants with hepatitis C who attended an outpatient clinic in Denmark. Participants were assessed using a one-time questionnaire that included several different fatigue assessments.

More than two-thirds of participants had clinically significant fatigue. Fatigue was significantly associated with liver inflammation and advanced liver injury. It was not associated with current or past drug use or opiate substitution therapy use.

Participants who were cured from treatment had a very low likelihood of experiencing fatigue.

The researchers suggested that since DAA treatment seems to reduce fatigue this provides further support for prompt treatment. (HIVandhepatitis.com, September 2016)

Health Canada overturns ban on prescription heroin

Health Canada has ended a ban on prescription heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine. This treatment can be helpful for people who have serious substance use issues and who have not responded to opiate substitution treatment (OST).

Prescription heroin treatment has been used in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany. 

A Canadian clinical trial called Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME) tested prescription heroin as a treatment among people who didn’t respond to OST. In the trial, those receiving prescription heroin experienced physical and mental health improvements, were more likely to stay in treatment and reduce street drug use than those on methadone.

Doctors can apply to prescribe heroin to patients under Health Canada’s Special Access Programme (SAP). (theglobeandmail.com, September 2016)

Straight to the source for new science

All-oral direct-acting antiviral regimens in HIV/Hepatitis C virus–coinfected patients with cirrhosis are efficient and safe: real-life results from the prospective ANRS CO13–HEPAVIH cohort, Clinical Infectious Diseases, September 2016, in English

Effectiveness and safety of sofosbuvir-based regimens for chronic HCV genotype 3 infection: results of the HCV-TARGET study, Clinical Infectious Diseases, September 2016, in English