Discuss: Exploring Hepatitis C

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Offline thedoc

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Discuss: Exploring Hepatitis C
« on: 09/12/2009 14:01:47 »
We explore the Hepatitis C Virus, finding out how it evades the immune system, and what it does to the body.  The virus affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide, so we find out how our blood transfusions are kept clean and possible new ways to treat the disease.  Plus, we discuss trapping CO2 in micro-metal cages, and progress in treating Cystic Fibrosis.  In Kitchen Science, we make a bicycle centrifuge!
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Offline Kevan Gelling

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Discuss: Exploring Hepatitis C
« Reply #1 on: 15/01/2010 13:46:05 »
From Haaretz [nofollow] (Israeli newspaper)

Vitamin D could help fight hepatitis C

A new study has found that administering vitamin D to hepatitis C patients dramatically reduces the presence of the virus in the blood.

The study, carried out at Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed and Hillel Yaffeh Medical Center in Hadera by Dr. Assy Nimer and Dr. Saif Abu-Mouch covered 90 hepatitis C patients.

The findings were presented in late November at a conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

For six months, in addition to the standard treatment, which included Interferon once a week and a daily dose of the antiviral drug Ribavirin, 30 patients were also treated with 1,000 units of vitamin D a day. A control group of 60 patients went without the vitamin.

In order to assess the impact of vitamin D on the treatment of the disease, before starting the study, all patients, including those from the control group and those who were found to have a vitamin D deficiency, were given supplements, so that all participants began the study from the same point.

A month after the start of treatment, the virus had disappeared from the blood in 44 percent of the group receiving vitamin D supplements, as opposed to just 18 percent among the control group.

After three months, the success rate for the group getting the supplement rose to 96 percent, compared to 48 percent in the control group.

Other findings from the study, which will be presented next month in Kfar Blum at a conference of the Israeli Association for the Study of the Liver, indicate that this trend continues even after the end of drug treatment.

The initial results show that six months after the end of treatment, 90 percent of patients treated with drug therapy and vitamin D supplements had the virus disappear and completely recovered.

"The drug treatment for hepatitis C patients is usually administered for around a year, and occasionally the virus disappears from the blood, but remains in other places, for example, in the liver and lymph glands," explained Nimer, the director of the Liver Disease Unit at Rebecca Sieff Hospital. "At the end of the treatment, the virus may return to the blood, but we found that in patients who were also given the vitamin D supplement, the virus did not return, that is, it was excreted by the body."

How vitamin D helps improve the condition of hepatitis patients is not entirely clear. However, according to Nimer, "It has already been proven that vitamin D benefits the immune system by increasing the activity of T cells [white blood cells that help in the fight against pathogens], improves the body's reaction to the insulin hormone, and reduces the level of pro-inflammatory proteins that cause liver infections caused by viruses."