The Critical Interim

Removing Hepatitis C from the blood during liver transplant is vital

(RxWiki News) Scientists have created an antibody to remove the Hepatitis C virus from the bloodstream during liver transplant surgery in an effort to prevent re-infection of the organ, a problem that occurs in most cases.

The Hepatitis C virus is a leading cause of liver disease that leads to transplantation. Approximately 3.2 million people in the United States are living with the virus and almost 10,000 die every year.

Researchers have developed an antibody called MBL-HCV1 and are currently testing it to see if it prevents HCV from re-infecting the liver in patients who receive a transplant. While transplantation can potentially save a patient's life, it is not 100 percent effective. Because the virus is present in the patient's bloodstream after transplant, the new liver can be infected again with Hepatitis C after surgery.

To avoid these pitfalls, scientists developed an antibody specifically designed to clear HCV infection and prevent re-infection of the liver. Preliminary trials have shown that their antibody, MBL-HCV1, was well tolerated and showed no adverse effects in patients. Proper dosage and efficiency were measured in preparation for the crucial second phase.

Next, the antibody will be tested during transplant surgery in the crucial moments when the diseased liver is extracted. Patients will be infused with the antibody right before the donor liver is implanted, hopefully resulting in elinination of the virus in the blood before it can infect the new organ. The virus only lives and replicates in the liver, so this method could prove successful.

"We are hopeful that positive results from this study will meet an important public health need," remarked Donna Ambrosino, MD, executive director of the trial.

Review Date: 
January 19, 2011