10 patients cured of hepatitis C after receiving lifesaving kidney transplants from infected donors

Ten patients who received lifesaving kidney transplants from hepatitis C-positive donors as a part of a clinical trial were successfully cured of the virus, according a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

On average, the 10 participants received kidneys 58 days after enrolling in the trial. All participants were reliant on dialysis to replace kidney function, were between the ages of 40 and 65 years and had been awaiting a transplant for at least 18 months. After receiving the transplant and testing positive for hepatitis C three days after the surgery, participants began a 12-week course of a recently approved oral antiretroviral therapy commonly referred to as Zepatier. All 10 patients were subsequently cured.

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"We started this trial in the hopes that, if successful, we could open up an entirely new pool of donor organs, and effectively transplant hundreds, if not thousands, more patients who are awaiting a lifesaving organ," said David Goldberg, MD, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology in the Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and one of the trial's leaders.

"Historically, hepatitis C-infected kidneys were often discarded and were thought to be damaged or too 'high-risk.' Our pilot data demonstrate the ability to cure the contracted virus following transplantation in this patient population. If future studies are successful, this may be a viable option for patients who may otherwise never see a transplant," added Dr. Goldberg.

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