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Genetic test may
help guide hepatitis C treatment

Genetic test may
help guide hepatitis C treatment

Test can help identify those most at risk of developing cirrhosis

A new genetic test developed by Celera Genomics can help identify which hepatitis C patients are most at risk of developing liver scarring, which boosts the risks for liver disease and liver cancer, helping doctors better decide which patients should endure the difficult course of anti-hepatitis drugs, The New York Times reports. In addition to being expensive, hepatitis treatments can cause a variety of adverse side effects, including fever, depression, and severe fatigue. Only about 20% of hepatitis C patients will develop cirrhosis, but most patients are prescribed anti-hepatitis drugs because it has been impossible to determine which were at the highest risk for the condition.

But Celera researchers have developed a test that looks for seven common genetic variations linked with cirrhosis. Previous studies have shown hepatitis C patients with any of the genetic variations had higher risks of developing cirrhosis, in some cases more than six times the chances of those without the variations. A study of the Celera test among 448 longtime hepatitis C patients showed it identified most of those who had developed the condition.

Celera hopes to be able to license the test before the end of the year. (The Advocate)

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