A combination of two direct-acting antivirals developed by AbbVie cured
100% of previously untreated patients with hepatitis C genotype 4 infection
when used with ribavirin, Christophe Hézode reported on Friday at the 49th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in
Genotype 4 hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the predominant form of hepatitis C in Egypt,
Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon. Genotype 4 accounts for approximately 20% of
hepatitis C infections worldwide and is becoming the most frequent genotype in
people newly diagnosed with hepatitis C in France, Tarik Asselah of the Hopital
Beaujon, Paris, told a conference satellite meeting organised by AbbVie.
Between 7 and 20% of hepatitis C infections in France, Italy and Spain are
genotype 4 infections, due in part to migration within the Mediterranean region
and from sub-Saharan Africa.
Genotype 4 infection has been considered hard to treat compared to
genotypes 2 and 3. Not all direct-acting antivirals are active against genotype
4, or else they have been tested in very small populations.
The PEARL-1 study examined the safety and efficacy of the protease
inhibitor ABT-450 and ritonavir booster (150/100mg once daily), in combination
with the NS5A inhibitor ombitasvir ABT-267 (250mg once daily) with or without
ribavirin. (AbbVie is also developing
these agents as part of a three-drug combnation that also includes the
non-nucleoside NS5B polymerase inhibitor
dasabuvir [ABT-333], which is not active against genotype 4.)
The study population comprised previously untreated and
treatment-experienced people with HCV genotype 4, who did not have cirrhosis.
All study participants received treatment for twelve weeks. People
who had not taken treatment before were randomised to receive therapy
without (n = 43) or with
(n = 42) ribavirin. The treatment-experienced patients (n = 49) all
Most were white (84.1-91.8% by arm) and male (54.5-73.5% by arm). Between
86.4% and 67.3% had fibrosis stage F0 or F1 by study arm. In the
treatment-experienced study arm, 34.7% had relapsed on a previous regimen of
pegylated interferon and ribavirin, 18.4% had shown a partial response and
46.9% had shown null response.
Mean HCV load at baseline was approximately 6.10 log10 iu/ml.
All 42 treatment-naive patients in the ribavirin-containing arm achieved
SVR12. The SVR12 rate was 90.9% in the ribavirin-sparing arm: one patient was
lost to follow-up, one patient experienced viral breakthrough before completion
of treatment and two patients experienced viral relapse after completing
treatment and prior to the week 12 post-treatment follow-up visit.
All 49 treatment-experienced patients had an end-of-treatment
virological response and SVR4 results were presented for 37
treatment-experienced patients, all of whom had undetectable virus. SVR12
results will be required in order to determine if all patients have achieved a
No participant in the study stopped treatment due
to side-effects and the only serious adverse event occurred as a result of a
car accident unrelated to treatment. The most common side-effects were
tiredness and headache. Three patients
in the treatment-experienced arm had transient elevations in bilirubin, and
four patients experienced haemoglobin declines (one in the ribavirin-sparing
arm). None required a ribavirin dose reduction.
"All-oral, interferon-free, 12-week regimens of
ABT-450/r + ombitasvir resulted in high SVR12 rates in treatment-naive HCV
genotype 4-infected patients ...[and] an SVR4 rate of 100% in
treatment-experienced patients receiving ABT-450/ritonavir + ombitasvir +
ribavirin," concluded the researchers.