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Patient's Genes May Impact Hepatitis C Outcomes

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David L. Smalley, PhD, professor of pathology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, agrees with the researcher's statement that a complex mix of genetic, environment, and virus factors determines the outcome of HCV infection.

"Genetics is one component that affects the outcome of HCV," says Smalley in an interview with WebMD. "This is one step in the right direction to find the genetic effects that might allow us to determine an intervention's success or failure. For us to fully understand a disease that evolves over a 20- or 30-year period of time, it is clear that we have to look at many other factors."

Leslye D. Johnson, PhD, who is with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, tells WebMD in an interview that this will probably give researchers a way to narrow the scope of future studies in an attempt to find something that is useful in treating patients.

"I don't think the results of this will be clinically useful," says Johnson, who was not involved in the study. "Although looking at these genes might give you some idea of what was going to happen, it is not going to be predictive."

Vital Information:

  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is transmitted via blood transfusion, IV drug use, or sexual contact and can cause a variety of ills, including a mild infection, liver disease, or liver cancer.
  • A new study shows that genetic factors influence which HCV patients will have a self-limiting type infection or a more persistent infection.
  • This new information could help patients in the future, but for now they must rely on many experimental treatments, none of which can kill the virus.
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