CA_logo-blueCaring Ambassadors Hepatitis C Program Newsletter

August 2008


In The News

Life Story: Hepatitis C advocate was 49
“Sherri Ziegler was a strong advocate for education about Hepatitis C and services for those affected by the virus. She helped start the California Hepatitis Alliance, founded the Nor-Cal Hepatitis C Network, was a founding member the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council and a member of the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable and the California Hepatitis C Task Force. She often appeared before legislators in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. All because she couldn't find any information about the virus when she was diagnosed.

‘She went in search for information ... searching out and finding what was out there,’ said her sister, Jeanee Marler of Paradise. ‘The more she found out, the more depressing (it was) because nothing was out there.’ Sherri Rae Ziegler, 49, of Yuba City, died June 26 at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center due to a brain aneurysm, according to her family. Born in Sacramento, the longtime Yuba City resident was a graduate of Yuba City High School. Sherri never knew exactly how she contracted Hep C, her sister noted.” Read more…

Natalie Cole says she has hepatitis C
“Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole has been diagnosed with hepatitis C, her publicist said in a statement Wednesday. Hepatitis C is a liver disease spread through contact with infected blood. The statement said the disease was revealed during a routine examination and was likely caused by her drug use years ago.

‘I've been so fortunate to have learned so much from my past experiences,’ said Cole. ‘I am embraced by the love and support of my family and friends; I am committed to my belief in myself and in my abiding faith to meet this challenge with a heartfelt optimism and determination. This is how I intend to deal with this current challenge in my life.’” Read more…

Improved culture system for hepatitis C virus infection
“A University of California, San Diego School of Medicine researcher has developed the first tissue culture of normal, human liver cells that can model infection with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and provide a realistic environment to evaluate possible treatments. The novel cell line will allow pharmaceutical companies to effectively test new drug candidates or possible vaccines for the HCV infection, which afflicts about 170 million people worldwide. Currently, there is no animal model that is effective for testing such therapies.


‘This is the first efficient and consistent model system for HCV to be developed,’ said Buck, adding that it will now enable researchers not only to conduct mechanistic experiments in culture, such as blocking the virus pathways, but also to more effectively screen possible therapies for HCV. ‘There is a need for new treatments, and for development of a possible vaccine for HCV. Now we have a model system to support work by investigators in this area.’ Read more…

Hepatitis bout ignited Nebraska woman's activism against medical contamination
Evelyn McKnight beat the breast cancer that could have killed her, but her doctor's unsanitary practice infected her and 98 other patients with another life-threatening disease: hepatitis C. As a result, McKnight, an audiologist in Fremont, Neb., last year founded a nonprofit organization Hepatitis Outbreaks National Organization for Reform (HONOReform) to lobby for state and federal laws protecting patients from substandard care.” Read more…

County hepatitis C numbers lead to increased screening
High-risk people encouraged to visit county clinic
“SUMMIT COUNTY, CO — Local health officials are concerned that increasing numbers of hepatitis-C cases are going undetected as exposure climbs. The Summit County Community Care Clinic has confirmed two positive tests for the disease since January and has records of 30 county residents who have been exposed, said Carolynn Lyle, a certified physician’s assistant at the clinic. The actual number of people infected is likely much higher, she said.

Deborah Miliner, also a PA-C with the clinic, said many can carry the disease for 20 or 30 years without symptoms. ‘That’s the bummer: They might not have any symptoms ever, except that (their) liver is slowly dying,’ she said.” Read more…

Many locals may be hepatitis C positive
“Doctors say between 10,000 and 20,000 people with Hepatitis C live in the collective New Braunfels, Kyle, Wimberley and Lockhart area — and many are wholly unaware they’ve contracted the blood-borne disease. ‘With most of the patients we’re treating now, (the diagnosis) was picked up incidentally,’ said Dr. Juan Guerrero, hepatologist with San Antonio’s UT Health Science Center. A liver transplant isn’t always needed, he said, but ‘by the time symptoms present themselves it’s usually too late’ to go another route.” Read more…

Genelabs, Taiwan company collaborate on hepatitis C research
Genelabs Technologies Inc. said Wednesday it will collaborate with two entities to research and develop compounds that target the hepatitis C virus. Redwood City-based Genelabs said the agreement includes the National Health Research Institutes, a nonprofit foundation established by the government of the Republic of China, and Genovate Biotechnology Co. Ltd., a biopharmaceutical company in Taiwan. Financial details were not disclosed.

In June Genelabs said Gilead Sciences Inc. ended a deal between the two companies to study a possible hepatitis C treatment. Genelabs said at the time it would get back all rights to the compounds developed in the deal with Foster City's Gilead.” Read more…

2 dates identified in Vegas hepatitis C outbreak
“The Southern Nevada Health District is identifying the two dates in 2007 when officials believe hepatitis C was transmitted between patients at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. In a report prepared for the district board on Thursday, officials say genetic testing traced the virus to patients treated on July 25, 2007, and on Sept. 21, 2007.

On Wednesday, officials said a ninth case of hepatitis C was linked to the Las Vegas clinic and a sister facility, the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center. In the biggest public health notification in U.S. history, the district last February advised some 50,000 clinic patients to get blood tests for hepatitis B, C and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Authorities say patients were exposed to the virus when clinic staff reused syringes and medicine vials.” Read more…

Researchers disprove long-standing belief about HIV treatment
“Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have disproved a long-standing clinical belief that the hepatitis C virus slows or stunts the immune system’s ability to restore itself after HIV patients are treated with a combination of drugs known as the ‘cocktail.’

Hepatitis C (HCV) infection is more serious in HIV-infected people, leading to rapid liver damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Intravenous drug use is a main method of contraction for both HIV and HCV and 50 to 90 percent of HIV-infected drug users are also infected with HCV.

The Wake Forest Baptist study looked at whether having HCV coinfection impairs immune restoration in patients receiving highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) to suppress their HIV infection. The results appear in the July issue of Aids Research and Human Retroviruses.

The research focused on levels of CD4 cells, the specific type of immune cell that is attacked by the HIV virus, and their ability to rebuild after HIV is suppressed. ‘We've been observing that in some patients that are co-infected with hepatitis C, we were treating their HIV with HAART but didn't always get very good restoration of CD4,’ said Marina Nunez, M.D., lead researcher and an assistant professor of infectious diseases. ‘Some studies suggested it was because of the hepatitis C. This study says it’s not the presence of active hepatitis C replication.’

Thus, said Nunez, genetic factors involved in the immune system regulation, confounding factors associated with HCV acquisition, or other unknown factors might explain the blunted immune restoration observed in some coinfected patients. ‘Research efforts should pursue the role of those other factors in the immune restoration,’ she said.” Read more…

Idenix Pharmaceuticals advances HCV discovery program to clinic
Initiates IDX184 phase I clinical study and advances HCV protease inhibitor and non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitor clinical candidates into IND-enabling preclinical studies.
“Indenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral and other infectious diseases, today announced that it has initiated a first-in-man study of IDX184 under a United States investigational new drug (IND) application. IDX184 is a once-daily, oral nucleotide prodrug polymerase inhibitor for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Today, Idenix also announced that is has selected a lead clinical candidate (IDX375) from its HCV non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitor discovery program and has advanced IDX375 into IND-enabling pharmacokinetic and toxicology studies. Idenix has also advanced two protease inhibitor drug candidates (IDX136 and IDX316) into IND-enabling pharmacokinetic and toxicology studies.” Read more…


Clinical Trials, Cohort Studies, Pilot Studies

Lichen planus and other cutaneous manifestations in chronic hepatitis C: pre- and post-interferon-based treatment prevalence vary in a cohort of patients from low hepatitis C virus endemic area. Maticic M, et al. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Jul;22(7):779-88.

Pregnancy complications associated with hepatitis C: data from a 2003-2005 Washington state birth cohort. Pergam SA, et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jul;199(1):38.e1-9.

Associations between hepatitis C viremia and low serum triglyceride and cholesterol levels: A community-based study. Dai Cy, et al. J Hepatol. 2008 Jul;49(1):9-16.

Antiviral effects and safety of telaprevir, peginterferon alfa-2a, and ribavirin for 28 days in hepatitis C patients. Lawitz E, at al. J Hepatol. 2008 Aug;49(2):163-9.

Metabolic factors and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma by chronic hepatitis B/C infection: a follow-up study in Taiwan. Chen CL, et al. Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;135(1):111-21.

Erythropoiesis-stimulating agent use for anemia induced by interferon-ribavirin treatment in patients with hepatitis C virus infection is not associated with increased rates of cardiovascular disease, thrombosis, malignancy, or death. Costiniuk CT, Camacho F, and Cooper CL. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 15;47(2):198-202.

Efficacy of low-dose intermittent interferon-alpha monotherapy in patients infected with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b who were predicted or failed to respond to pegylated interferon plus ribavirin combination therapy. Akuta N, et al. J Med Virol. 2008 Aug;80(8):1363-9.

Pioglitazone in chronic hepatitis C not responding to pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin. Overkbeck K, et al. J Hepatol. 2008 Aug;49(2):295-298.

Antiviral therapy for recurrent hepatitis C after liver transplantation: sustained virologic response is related to genotype 2/3 and response at week 12. Raziorrouh B, et al. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Aug;20(8):778-83.

Suitable treatment period in patients with virological response during combination therapy of peginterferon and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C. Arase Y, et al. Intern Med. 2008;47(14):1301-7. [ Epub 2008 Jul 15]

The Response to Pegylated Interferon Alpha 2a in Haemodialysis Patients with Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Akhan SC, Kalender B, and Ruzgar M. Infection. 2008 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Liver transplant for hepatitis C virus: effect of using older donor grafts on short- and medium-term survival. Doyle MB, et al. Arch Surg. 2008 Jul;143(7):679-85.


Basic and Applied Science, Pre-Clinical Studies

Fibrosis progression rates between chronic hepatitis B and C patients with elevated alanine aminotransferase levels. Fujiwara A,et al. J Gastroenterol. 2008;43(6):484-91.

A set of reference sequences for the hepatitis C genotypes 4d, 4f, and 4k covering the full open reading frame. Kuntzen T, et al. J Med Virol. 2008 Aug;80(8):1370-8.

Histologic abnormalities are common in protocol liver allograft biopsies from patients with normal liver function tests. Abraham SC, et al. Am J Surg Pathol. 2008 Jul;32(7):965-73.

Kinetics of hepatitis C viral RNA and HCV-antigen during dialysis sessions: evidence for differential viral load reduction on dialysis. Kaiser T, et al. J Med Virol. 2008 Jul;80(7):1195-201.

Hepatitis C virus infection in mouse hepatoma cells co-expressing human CD81 and Sip-L.
Yeh CT, et al. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Jul 18;372(1):157-61.

Efficient trans-encapsidation of hepatitis C virus RNAs into infectious virus-like particles.
Steinmann E, et al. J Virol. 2008 Jul;82(14):7034-46.

Cryofibrinogen in patients with hepatitis C virus infection. Delluc A, et al. Am J Med. 2008 Jul;121(7):624-31.

Persistence of hepatitis C virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of sustained viral responders to pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy. Gallegos-Orozco JF, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Jul 2.

Response to interferon therapy affects risk factors for postoperative recurrence of hepatitis C virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma. Uenishi T, et al. J Surg Oncol. 2008 Jul 21.

The impact of combination therapy with peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin on the energy intake and body weight of adult hepatitis C patients. Hamer C. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2008 Jul 18.

Hepatitis C virus-specific T-cell immune responses in seronegative injection drug users.
Zeremski M, et al. J Viral Hepat. 2008 Jul 17.

HIV/HCV Coinfection

Human immunodeficiency virus-related microbial translocation and progression of hepatitis C. Balagopal A, et al. Gastroenterology. 2008 Jul;135(1):226-33.

Management of chronic hepatitis C virus infection in HIV-infected patients. Pol S and Soriano V. Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 1;47(1):94-101.


Role of pegylated interferon-alpha-2a and ribavirin concentrations in sustained viral response in HCV/HIV-coinfected patients. Lopez-Cortes L, et al. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Jul 2. [Epub ahead of print]


Identification of novel markers for liver fibrosis in HIV/hepatitis C virus coinfected individuals using genomics-based approach. Suzman DL, et al. AIDS. 2008 Jul 31;22(12):1433-1439.


Serum alpha-fetoprotein predicts virologic response to Hepatitis C treatment in HIV coinfected patients. Carrat F, et al. AIDS. 2008 Jul 31;22(12):1513-1515.


Expansion of CD56- NK cells in chronic HCV/HIV-1 co-infection: reversion by antiviral treatment with pegylated IFNalpha and ribavirin. Gonzalez VD, et al. Clin Immunol. 2008 Jul;128(1):46-56. [Epub 2008 May 20]


Liver fibrosis during an outbreak of acute hepatitis C virus infection in HIV-infected men: a prospective cohort study. Fierer DS, et al. J Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]


Response to pegylated interferon plus ribavirin in HIV-infected patients with chronic hepatitis C due to genotype 4. Martín-Carbonero L, et al. J Viral Hepat. 2008 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]


Therapeutical aspects and outcome of HIV/HCV coinfected patients treated with pegylated interferon plus ribavirin in an Italian cohort. Righi E, et al. Infection. 2008 Jul 19. [Epub ahead of print]

Complementary & Alternative Therapy

Two flavonoids extracts from Glycyrrhizae radix inhibit in vitro hepatitis C virus replication.
Sekine-Osajima Y, et al. Hepatol Res. 2008 Jul 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Epidemiology, Diagnostics, and Miscellaneous Works

Validation of a strategy for HCV antibody testing with two enzyme immunoassays in a routine clinical laboratory. Vermeersch P, Van Ranst M, and Lagrou K. J Clin Virol. 2008 Aug;42(4):394-8.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific immune responses of long-term injection drug users frequently exposed to HCV. Mizukoshi E, et al. J Infect Dis. 2008 Jul 15;198(2):203-212.

Factors influencing Hepatitis C virus sero-prevalence among blood donors in north west Pakistan. Khattak MN, et al.  J Public Health Policy. 2008 Jul;29(2):207-25.


Impact of viral eradication on mortality related to hepatitis C: a modeling approach in France. Deuffic-Burban S, et al. J Hepatol. 2008 Aug;49(2):175-83.


The influence of alcohol consumption and hepatitis B and C infections on the risk of liver cancer in Europe. Ribes J, et al. J Hepatol. 2008 Aug;49(2):233-42.


Sustained virologic response to treatment in 100% of patients recently infected, nosocomially, with HCV genotype 2. Sikuler E, et al. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2008 Jul;42(6):730-733.

External validation of the platelet count/spleen diameter ratio for the diagnosis of esophageal varices in hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis. Agha A, et al. Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Jul 2. [Epub ahead of print]

Epidemiological characteristics and medical follow-up of 61 patients with acute hepatitis C identified through the hepatitis C surveillance system in France. Brouard C, et al. Epidemiol Infect. 2008 Jul;136(7):988-96.

Prevalence of infection with hepatitis B and C viruses and co-infection with HIV in three jails: a case for viral hepatitis prevention in jails in the United States.  Hennessey KA, et al. J Urban Health. 2008 Jul 12; [Epub ahead of print]

Evaluation of the new ARCHITECT anti-HCV screening test under routine laboratory conditions. Berger A, et al. J Clin Virol. 2008 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Active intravenous drug use during chronic hepatitis C therapy does not reduce sustained virological response rates in adherent patients. Bruggmann P, et al. J Viral Hepat. 2008 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Hepatocellular carcinoma in long-term sustained virological responders following antiviral combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C. Scherzer TM, et al. J Viral Hepat. 2008 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]

A continuous (13)C methacetin breath test for noninvasive assessment of intrahepatic inflammation and fibrosis in patients with chronic HCV infection and normal ALT.
Lalazar G, et al. J Viral Hepat. 2008 Jul 10. [Epub ahead of print]

Prevalence and genotype distribution of hepatitis C virus among apparently healthy individuals in Mongolia: a population-based nationwide study. Baatarkhuu O, et al. Liver Int. 2008 Jul 16. [Epub ahead of print]

Clinicopathological features of elderly patients with hepatitis C virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma. Miki D, et al. J Gastroenterol. 2008;43(7):550-7.