DNA sequence variation that affects a person's response to treatment for chronic infections by the hepatitis C virus is reported online in Nature. The findings represent the strongest study of predictors of treatment response to date, and may be of immediate clinical use in the development of a test for those considering treatment for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C affects around 170 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of cirrhosis in the North America. Current treatments for the disease, which involve targeting proteins in the immune system, are difficult, time consuming, and quite often ineffective. David Goldstein and colleagues use a genome-wide association study to show that DNA sequence variations near the gene IL28B are associated with a significant change in the levels of treatment response when comparing European and African-American patients.
Because the variant associated with better treatment response was found to be more common in those of European decent compared to those of African origin it helps to explain why there is such a large difference in the effectiveness of treatment of the disease between these two populations of sufferers.
David Goldstein (Duke University, Durham, NC, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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