, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 17-23

Pegylated interferons: What role will they play in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C?

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Abstract

The primary therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is interferon. Unfortunately, standard interferon, because of its very short half-life and side-effect profile, has limited efficacy in most patients with this disease. Pegylated interferons are produced by attaching the inert polymer, polyethylene glycol, to the standard interferon alpha protein. This process enhances the biological activity of interferon, primarily by prolonging the half-life, when compared with the native protein. To date, two types of pegylated interferon alpha have been developed. Both of these products have been shown to be superior to standard interferon, at both eradicating HCV RNA during therapy and at achieving a sustained virologic response. When combined with ribavirin, treatment with pegylated interferon can achieve sustained virologic response in approximately 42% of patients infected with HCV genotype 1 and 80% of patients with HCV genotypes 2 or 3.