Currently, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is considered a serious health-care problem all over the world. A good number of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) against HCV infection are in clinical progress including NS3-4A protease inhibitors, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitors, and NS5A inhibitors as well as host targeted inhibitors. Two NS3-4A protease inhibitors (telaprevir and boceprevir) have been recently approved for the treatment of hepatitis C in combination with standard of care (pegylated interferon plus ribavirin). The new therapy has significantly improved sustained virologic response (SVR); however, the adverse effects associated with this therapy are still the main concern. In addition to the emergence of viral resistance, other targets must be continually developed. One such underdeveloped target is the helicase portion of the HCV NS3 protein. This review article summarizes our current understanding of HCV treatment, particularly with those of NS3 inhibitors.
Therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with pegylated interferon α and ribavirin leads to suboptimal rates of viral eradication in patients with genotype 1 HCV, the most common viral strain in the United States and many other countries. Recent advances in the study of viral kinetics, host factors that predict response to antiviral therapy, and viral protein structure have established the foundation of a new era in the treatment of HCV infection. The HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir, the first 2 agents in a new and promising generation of direct-acting antiviral agents to have completed phase III studies, were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2011. The addition of these HCV protease inhibitors to standard therapy has been demonstrated to dramatically improve sustained virologic response rates, both in treatment-naïve patients and in prior relapsers and nonresponders. These novel agents represent only the beginning of a revolution in HCV therapy, which will include additional protease inhibitors as well as other classes of drugs currently under investigation, such as polymerase inhibitors, NS5A inhibitors, and host factor inhibitors such as cyclophilin antagonists. The future of HCV therapy holds promise for significantly higher sustained virologic response rates with shorter treatment durations, as well as the intriguing potential to achieve virologic cure with interferon-free combination therapy regimens.
Hepatitis C virus; genotype 1; boceprevir; telaprevir; direct-acting antiviral agents
Until very recently, treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been based on the combination of two non-viral specific drugs: pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin, which is effective in, overall, about 40%-50% of cases. To improve the response to treatment, novel drugs have been designed to specifically block viral proteins. Multiple compounds are under development, and the approval for clinical use of the first of such direct-acting antivirals in 2011 (Telaprevir and Boceprevir), represents a milestone in HCV treatment. HCV therapeutics is entering a new expanding era, and a highly-effective cure is envisioned for the first time since the discovery of the virus in 1989. However, any antiviral treatment may be limited by the capacity of the virus to overcome the selective pressure of new drugs, generating antiviral resistance. Here, we try to provide a basic overview of new treatments, HCV resistance to new antivirals and some considerations derived from a Public Health perspective, using HCV resistance to protease and polymerase inhibitors as examples.
Specifically-targeted antiviral therapy; Direct-acting antiviral; Protease inhibitors; Polymerase inhibitors; Viral resistance
HCV NS3/4a protease inhibitors are proven therapeutic agents against chronic hepatitis C virus infection, with boceprevir and telaprevir having recently received regulatory approval as add-on therapy to pegylated interferon/ribavirin for patients harboring genotype 1 infections. Overcoming antiviral resistance, broad genotype coverage, and a convenient dosing regimen are important attributes for future agents to be used in combinations without interferon. In this communication, we report the preclinical profile of MK-5172, a novel P2-P4 quinoxaline macrocyclic NS3/4a protease inhibitor currently in clinical development. The compound demonstrates subnanomolar activity against a broad enzyme panel encompassing major hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes as well as variants resistant to earlier protease inhibitors. In replicon selections, MK-5172 exerted high selective pressure, which yielded few resistant colonies. In both rat and dog, MK-5172 demonstrates good plasma and liver exposures, with 24-h liver levels suggestive of once-daily dosing. When administered to HCV-infected chimpanzees harboring chronic gt1a or gt1b infections, MK-5172 suppressed viral load between 4 to 5 logs at a dose of 1 mg/kg of body weight twice daily (b.i.d.) for 7 days. Based on its preclinical profile, MK-5172 is anticipated to be broadly active against multiple HCV genotypes and clinically important resistance variants and highly suited for incorporation into newer all-oral regimens.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects more than 3% of the world’s population, leading to an increased risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The current standard of care, a combination of pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin, is poorly tolerated and often ineffective against the most prevalent genotype of the virus, genotype 1. The very recent approval of boceprevir and telaprevir, two HCV protease inhibitors, promises to significantly improve treatment options and outcomes. In addition to the viral protease NS3 and the viral polymerase NS5B, direct-acting antivirals are now in development against NS5A. A multifunctional phosphoprotein, NS5A is essential to HCV genome replication, but has no known enzymatic function. Here we report how the design of small-molecule inhibitors against NS5A has evolved from promising monomers to highly potent dimeric compounds effective against many HCV genotypes. We also highlight recent clinical data and how the inhibitors may bind to NS5A, itself capable of forming dimers.
With the current standard of care for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, a combination of pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin, sustained virologic response rates can be achieved in approximately 50% of patients only.
Improved understanding of the viral life cycle has led to the identification of numerous potential targets for novel, direct-acting antiviral compounds. Inhibitors of the NS3/4A protease are currently the most advanced in clinical development. Recently completed phase 3 studies of the two protease inhibitors telaprevir and boceprevir, each given in combination with standard of care, yielded sustained virologic response rates in the range of 66-75% in treatment-naive patients and 59-66% in treatment-experienced patients with HCV genotype 1 infection. Studies of second-generation protease inhibitors, with the potential advantage of improved potency, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics profile, are already underway.
Inhibitors of the HCV NS5A protein and NS5B polymerase are potentially active across different HCV genotypes and have shown promising antiviral efficacy in early clinical studies. Other emerging mechanisms include silymarin components and inhibitors of cell proteins required for HCV replication.
While improved formulations of current HCV therapies are also being developed, future hopes lie on the combination of direct-acting antivirals with the eventual possibility of interferon-free treatment regimens.
chronic hepatitis C; direct-acting antivirals; protease inhibitor; polymerase inhibitor; NS5A inhibitor; cyclophilin inhibitor
Direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are one of the major advances in its medical treatment. The HCV protease inhibitors boceprevir and telaprevir were the first approved DAAs in the United States, Europe, and Japan. When combined with peginterferon plus ribavirin, these agents increase sustained virologic response rates to 70%-80% in treatment-naïve patients and previous-treatment relapsers with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. Without peginterferon plus ribavirin, DAA mono-therapies increased DAA-resistance mutations. Several new DAAs for HCV are now in clinical development and are likely to be approved in the near future. However, it has been reported that the use of these drugs also led to the emergence of DAA-resistance mutations in certain cases. Furthermore, these mutations exhibit cross-resistance to multiple drugs. The prevalence of DAA-resistance mutations in HCV-infected patients who were not treated with DAAs is unknown, and it is as yet uncertain whether such variants are sensitive to DAAs. We performed a population sequence analysis to assess the frequency of such variants in the sera of HCV genotype 1-infected patients not treated with HCV protease inhibitors. Here, we reviewed the literature on resistance variants of HCV protease inhibitors in treatment naïve patients with chronic HCV genotype 1, as well as our experience.
Direct-acting antiviral agent; Hepatitis C virus; Protease inhibitor; Resistance mutation; Sequence analysis
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common and leading cause for liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current therapies to treat HCV infection are shown to be partially effective and poorly tolerated. Therefore, ample efforts are underway to rationally design therapies targeting the HCV non-structural proteins. Most of the work carried out in this direction has been focusing mainly on HCV genotype 1. Two direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) Telaprevir and Boceprevir are being used against genotype 1a infection in combination therapy with interferon and ribavirin. Unfortunately these DAAs are not effective against genotype 3a. Considering the wide spread infection by HCV genotype 3a in developing countries especially South Asia, we have focused on the recombinant production of antiviral drug targets NS3 and NS5A from HCV genotype 3a. These protein targets are to be used for screening of inhibitors.
High-level expression of NS3 and NS5A was achieved at 25°C, using ~1 and 0.5 mM Isopropyl β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside (IPTG), respectively. Yields of the purified NS3 and NS5A were 4 and 1 mg per liter culture volume, respectively. Although similar amounts of purified NS3 were obtained at 25 and 14°C, specificity constant (Kcat/Km) was somewhat higher at expression temperature of 25°C. Circular dichroism (CD) and Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy revealed that both NS3 and NS5A contain a mixture of alpha-helix and beta-sheet secondary structures. For NS3 protein, percentages of secondary structures were similar to the values predicted from homology modeling.
NS3 and NS5A were over-expressed and using Nickel-affinity method both proteins were purified to ~ 95% purity. Yield of the purified NS3 obtained is four fold higher than previous reports. CD spectroscopy revealed that difference in activity of NS3 expressed at various temperatures is not related to changes in global structural features of the protein. Moreover, CD and FT-IR analysis showed that NS3 and NS5A contain both alpha-helical and beta-sheet structures and for NS5A, the proportion is almost equal. The production of NS3 and NS5A in milligram quantities will allow their characterization by biophysical and biochemical means that will help in designing new strategies to fight against HCV infection.
HCV; NS3; NS5A; Genotype 3a; Protease; Helicase; Viral replication; Protein expression; CD spectroscopy; FT-IR
Boceprevir was the first agent, along with telaprevir, of a novel class of direct-acting antivirals that entered clinical practice for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Boceprevir is an antiprotease that directly blocks hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Two studies in patients with HCV genotype 1 infection have shown that addition of boceprevir to the standard of care, ie, pegylated interferon-alfa (PEG-IFN-α) and ribavirin, markedly increased the rate of sustained virological response. A sustained virological response was obtained in about 70% of patients who had never been treated, as well as in 69%–75% and 40% of previous relapsers and nonresponders to PEG-IFN-α-ribavirin, respectively. Side effects were observed in almost all treated patients. Anemia, the most frequent adverse event related to administration of boceprevir, occurred in about 50% of patients. The decision to add boceprevir to the standard of care is made on an individual basis, and takes into account the prognosis of the liver disease, the efficacy of therapy, as it could be at best predicted, and the side effects that may arise, taking into account the comorbidities of the patient. Ultimately, the treatment must be accepted by the patient, who should fully understand the benefits and risks. Boceprevir trials were designed with the concept of individualized and response-guided therapy which establishes treatment decisions on how rapidly patients respond to treatment. Individualized therapy for chronic hepatitis C is based on patient and viral characteristics to make the best choice about whether a person will benefit from therapy and to evaluate on-treatment predictors of response to shorten therapy in patients with a rapid response as well as in patients who did not respond sufficiently to expect HCV eradication. This review focuses on the main results obtained so far, their impact on the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C, and potential therapeutic perspectives.
boceprevir; antiviral therapy; hepatitis C virus
Chronic hepatitis C infection is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with hepatitis C related cirrhosis being the most common indication for transplant and a major cause for the increase in hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. Treatment for hepatitis C has consisted of nonspecific immunomodulatory therapies that stimulate the immune system and inhibit hepatitis C replication. Pegylated (peg-)interferon and ribavirin have been the standard of care with an overall sustained response rate of 40–50% in patients with genotype 1 infection, and 80% in genotype 2 or 3. Recently, direct-acting antiviral agents, including boceprevir, have demonstrated improved sustained response rates in patients with genotype 1 infection when given in combination with interferon and ribavirin. Boceprevir is a structurally novel hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural 3 (NS3) protease inhibitor that has demonstrated robust antiviral activity in HCV replicons. Clinically, in phase II and III trials, boceprevir 800 mg three times daily with peginterferon and ribavirin has led to improved sustained response rates in genotype 1 infection treatment-naive patients, relapsers, partial responders, and null responders. Phase II data have demonstrated that ribavirin is essential for optimal boceprevir response. Moreover, phase II data have suggested that a 4-week peginterferon or ribavirin lead-in strategy may reduce relapse rates and provide crucial on-treatment data for treatment response with boceprevir addition. Side effects of boceprevir when added to peginterferon and ribavirin are similar to peginterferon and ribavirin, though higher rates of anemia have been noted, with an incremental increase in erythropoietin use. The addition of boceprevir represents a major advance in patients with genotype 1 infection who are treatment naïve.
hepatitis C; interferon; ribavirin; boceprevir; direct acting antiviral; resistance
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects more than 170 million persons worldwide and is responsible for the development of liver cirrhosis in many cases. Standard treatment with pegylated alpha interferon (IFN-α) in combination with the nucleoside analogue ribavirin leads to a sustained virologic response in approximately half of the patients. IFN-α is classified as an indirect treatment, as it interacts with the host's immune response. The mechanism of action of ribavirin is still unknown. The benefit of triple therapy by adding other antiviral agents, e.g., amantadine, is controversial. Currently, new direct antiviral drugs (HCV protease/polymerase inhibitors) are being evaluated in phase 1/phase 2 trials. Phenotypic resistance to antiviral therapy has been attributed to amino acid variations within distinct regions of the HCV polyprotein. While sensitivity to IFN-α-based antiviral therapy in vivo is clearly correlated with the number of mutations within the HCV NS5A protein, the underlying functional mechanisms for this association are unknown. In turn, in vitro, several mechanisms to circumvent the host immune defense or to block treatment-induced antiviral activities have been described for different HCV proteins. By the introduction of direct antiviral drugs, hepatitis C therapy now is entering a new era in which the development of resistance may become the most important parameter for treatment success or failure.
Several directly-acting and host-targeting antivirals that inhibit hepatitis C virus replication have entered clinical trials. Amongst the most advanced of these are RG7128, an inhibitor of the NS5B polymerase; BMS-790052, an inhibitor of NS5A; and alisporivir, an inhibitor of human cyclophilins. These agents have potent antiviral activity in chronic HCV patients, act additively or synergistically with inhibitors of the HCV NS3/4A protease, and improve the rate of virologic response produced by traditional pegylated interferon plus ribavirin therapy. No cross resistance has been observed; moreover, nucleoside NS5B and cyclophilin inhibitors appear to suppress resistance to non-nucleoside NS5B and NS3/4A inhibitors. Several recent reports of virologic responses produced by combinations of agents that inhibit HCV replication in the absence of interferon provide optimism that eradication of HCV will be possible without interferon in the future.
About sixty thousand new cases of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are recorded in Brazil each year. These cases are currently treated with pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) with an overall success rate of 50%. New compounds for anti-HCV therapy targeted to the HCV NS3 protease are being developed and some already form the components of licensed therapies. Mapping NS3 protease resistance mutations to protease inhibitors or anti-viral drug candidates is important to direct anti-HCV drug treatment.
Sequence analysis of the HCV NS3 protease was conducted in a group of 68 chronically infected patients harboring the HCV genotype 1. The patients were sampled before, during and after a course of PEG-IFN-RBV treatment.
Resistance mutations to the protease inhibitors, Boceprevir and Telaprevir were identified in HCV isolated from three patients (4.4%); the viral sequences contained at least one of the following mutations: V36L, T54S and V55A. In one sustained virological responder, the T54S mutation appeared during the course of PEG-IFN and RBV therapy. In contrast, V36L and V55A mutations were identified in virus isolated from one relapsing patient before, during, and after treatment, whereas the T54S mutation was identified in virus isolated from one non-responding patient, before and during the treatment course.
The incidence and persistence of protease resistance mutations occurring in HCV from chronically infected patients in Brazil should be considered when using protease inhibitors to treat HCV disease. In addition, patients treated with the current therapy (PEG-IFN and RBV) that are relapsing or are non-responders should be considered candidates for protease inhibitor therapy.
HCV NS3 protease; Drug resistance persistency; Selection pressure; Antiviral drugs; Chronic Hepatitis C infection
More than 20 years after the identification of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) as a novel human pathogen, the only approved treatment remains a combination of pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin. This rather non-specific therapy is associated with severe side effects and by far not everyone benefits from treatment. Recently, progress has been made in the development of specifically targeted antiviral therapy for HCV (STAT-C). A major target for such direct acting antivirals (DAAs) is the HCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase or non-structural protein 5B (NS5B), which is essential for viral replication. This review will examine the current state of development of inhibitors targeting the polymerase and issues such as the emergence of antiviral resistance during treatment, as well as strategies to address this problem.
HCV NS5B polymerase inhibitors; drug resistance; viral fitness; genetic barrier
Recently developed drugs and innovative strategies for the treatment of chronic infection with genotype 1 hepatitis C virus (HCV) have become the standard of care. The protease inhibitors telaprevir (Incivek) and boceprevir (Victrelis) are the first direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents approved, and many more are being developed. These drugs substantially increased rates of sustained virologic response in treatment-naïve and -experienced patients, in conjunction with peginterferon and ribavirin (triple therapy), in phase 3 trials. The efficacy of triple therapy depends on appropriate selection of patients, although the population of patients that receive triple therapy could be expanded as the risk/benefit ratio improves. Attention to details that reflect the standard of care, such as appropriate dosing, anticipation of adverse effects, and strict adherence to stopping rules, will insure the success of these drugs and lead the way for new combination therapies.
Hepatitis C; Boceprevir; Telaprevir; Safety; Triple Therapy
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 200 million people worldwide. Interferon-based therapies have dominated over the past two decades. However, the overall response rates remain suboptimal. Thanks to the tremendous effort from both academia and industry, two serine protease inhibitors telaprevir and boceprevir for treating chronic hepatitis C have finally reached the clinic. Although these compounds are only approved for combination use with interferon and ribavirin in genotype 1 HCV infected chronic patients, the management of HCV patients however is now evolving incredibly. Here, we overviewed a series of landmark studies, regarding the clinical development of telaprevir and boceprevir. We discussed the mechanism-of-action of telaprevir/boceprevir and their potential application in HCV-positive liver transplantation patients. We further emphasized some emerging concerns with perspective of further development in this field.
Telaprevir; Boceprevir; Mechanism-of-action; Clinical efficacy; Liver transplantation patient; Interferon; Ribavirin
Over the last decade, the standard of care for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C has been the combination of pegylated-interferon-alfa (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin (RBV) which results in sustained virological response (SVR) rates of 75%-85% in patients with genotypes 2 or 3 but only of 40%-50% in patients with genotype 1. Currently, there are rapid and continuous developments of numerous new agents against hepatitis C virus (HCV), which are the focus of this review. Boceprevir and telaprevir, two first-generation NS3/4A HCV protease inhibitors, have been recently licensed in several countries around the world to be used in combination with PEG-IFN and RBV for the treatment of genotype 1 patients. Boceprevir or telaprevir based triple regimens, compared with the PEG-IFN/RBV combination, improve the SVR rates by 25%-31% in treatment-naïve genotype 1 patients, by 40%-64% in prior relapsers, by 33%-45% in prior partial responders and by 24%-28% in prior null responders. At the same time, the application of response-guided treatment algorithms according to the on-treatment virological response results in shortening of the total therapy duration to only 24 wk in 45%-55% of treatment-naïve patients. There are, however, several challenges with the use of the new triple combinations in genotype 1 patients, such as the need for immediate results of HCV RNA testing using sensitive quantitative assays, new and more frequent adverse events (anemia and dysgeusia for boceprevir; pruritus, rash and anemia for telaprevir), new drug interactions and increasing difficulties in compliance. Moreover, the SVR rates are still poor in very difficult to treat subgroups of genotype 1 patients, such as null responders with cirrhosis, while there is no benefit for patients who cannot tolerate PEG-IFN/RBV or who are infected with non-1 HCV genotype. Many newer anti-HCV agents of different classes and numerous combinations are currently under evaluation with encouraging results. Preliminary data suggest that the treatment of chronic HCV patients with well tolerated combinations of oral agents without PEG-IFN is feasible and may lead to a universal HCV cure over the next 5-10 years.
Chronic hepatitis C; Pegylated interferon; Ribavirin; Protease inhibitors; Nucleos(t)ide analogue inhibitors; Non-nucleos(t)ide analogue inhibitors; Hepatitis C virus polymerase; NS5A inhibitors; Cyclophilin inhibitors
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major worldwide problem causes acute and chronic HCV infection. Current treatment of HCV includes pegylated interferon-α (PEG IFN- α) plus ribavirin (RBV) which has significant side effects depending upon the type of genotype. Currently, there is a need to develop antiviral agents, both from synthetic chemistry and Herbal sources. In the last decade, various novel HCV replication, helicase and entry inhibitors have been synthesized and some of which have been entered in different phases of clinical trials. Successful results have been acquired by executing combinational therapy of compounds with standard regime in different HCV replicons. Even though, diverse groups of compounds have been described as antiviral targets against HCV via Specifically Targeted Antiviral Therapy for hepatitis C (STAT-C) approach (in which compounds are designed to directly block HCV or host proteins concerned in HCV replication), still there is a need to improve the properties of existing antiviral compounds. In this review, we sum up potent antiviral compounds against entry, unwinding and replication of HCV and discussed their activity in combination with standard therapy. Conclusively, further innovative research on chemical compounds will lead to consistent standard therapy with fewer side effects.
Hepatitis C infection (HCV) remains a global problem and the current anti-HCV therapies available in the clinic have sustained virologic response rates (SVR) of only about 50%, especially in HCV genotype 1–infected subjects. The SVR is even lower in HIV-HCV co-infected patients, estimated at only about 30–40%. However, exciting new research is under way to find new anti-HCV therapies. Presently, efforts to develop new anti-HCV agents for HCV-infected persons who fail pegylated interferon and ribavirin-based therapies have focused on inhibitors of key HCV enzymes such as the HCV NS3 protease and the NS5B polymerase. There are two protease inhibitors, telaprevir (VX-950, Vertex) and boceprevir (SCH 503034, Schering-Plough); and three polymerase inhibitors, valopicitabine (NM283, Idenix), R1626 (Roche), and HCV-796 (Viropharma) that have advanced to late-stage clinical trials. Of these aforementioned agents, telaprevir is the most advanced in clinical development. Early trial results on efficacy, safety, and HCV drug-resistance profiles of these novel agents will be discussed in this review paper.
The current standard of care for hepatitis C infection is peginterferon/ribavirin (PegIFN/RBV). We are entering the era where direct-acting antiviral agents (DAAs) will be added to PegIFN/RBV, leading to higher sustained response rates in genotype 1 infected individuals. Currently DAAs are directed toward specific proteins involved in hepatitis C replication with NS3/NS4A protease inhibitors furthest in development. Telaprevir and boceprevir are both NS3/NS4a inhibitors that significantly improve sustained response when added to PegIFN and RBV. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) polymerase inhibitors are another promising DAA class. These molecules are divided into nucleoside/nucleotide polymerase inhibitors and nonnucleotide/nucleoside polymerase inhibitors. Nucleoside/nucleotide polymerase inhibitors have a high barrier to resistance and appear to be effective across a broad range of genotypes. Nonnucleoside polymerase inhibitors have a lower barrier of resistance and appear to be genotype specific. Preliminary data with these compounds are also promising. A third class, NS5A inhibitors, has also shown potent HCV RNA suppression in preliminary studies as monotherapy and with PegIFN and RBV. Combinations of these agents are also entering clinical trials and indeed a preliminary report has demonstrated that the combination of an NS3/4A protease inhibitor and NS5B polymerase inhibitor can effectively suppress virus in genotype 1 individuals. Future studies will concentrate on combinations of direct-acting antiviral agents without and with PegIFN and RBV. Clinicians will need to be familiar with managing side effects as well as resistance as we enter this new era.
Polymerase inhibitor; Hepatitis C virus; Protease inhibitor
Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is an important public health problem, and the standard treatment (combination of pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin) has an effectiveness rate of only 40%–50%. Novel virus-specific drugs have recently been designed, and multiple compounds are under development. The approval for the clinical use of direct-acting antivirals in 2011 (boceprevir [BOC] and telaprevir, viral NS3 protease inhibitors) has increased recovery rates by up to 70%. Therefore, a highly effective treatment has been envisioned for the first time. This paper focuses on BOC and the implementation of new BOC-based treatment regimes.
HCV; antiviral therapy; protease inhibitors; viral resistance
Persistent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic liver diseases and is a global health problem. Although new triple therapy (pegylated-interferon, ribavirin, and telaprevir/boceprevir) has recently been started and is expected to achieve a sustained virologic response of more than 70% in HCV genotype 1 patients, there are several problems to be resolved, including skin rash/ageusia and advanced anemia. Thus a new type of anti-HCV drug is still needed.
Recently developed HCV drug assay systems using HCV-RNA-replicating cells (e.g., HuH-7-derived OR6 and Li23-derived ORL8) were used to evaluate the anti-HCV activity of drug candidates. During the course of the evaluation of anti-HCV candidates, we unexpectedly found that two preclinical antimalarial drugs (N-89 and its derivative N-251) showed potent anti-HCV activities at tens of nanomolar concentrations irrespective of the cell lines and HCV strains of genotype 1b. We confirmed that replication of authentic HCV-RNA was inhibited by these drugs. Interestingly, however, this anti-HCV activity did not work for JFH-1 strain of genotype 2a. We demonstrated that HCV-RNA-replicating cells were cured by treatment with only N-89. A comparative time course assay using N-89 and interferon-α demonstrated that N-89-treated ORL8 cells had more rapid anti-HCV kinetics than did interferon-α-treated cells. This anti-HCV activity was largely canceled by vitamin E. In combination with interferon-α and/or ribavirin, N-89 or N-251 exhibited a synergistic inhibitory effect.
We found that the preclinical antimalarial drugs N-89 and N-251 exhibited very fast and potent anti-HCV activities using cell-based HCV-RNA-replication assay systems. N-89 and N-251 may be useful as a new type of anti-HCV reagents when used singly or in combination with interferon and/or ribavirin.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver diseases including steatosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, there is no vaccine available for prevention of HCV infection due to high degree of strain variation. The current treatment of care, Pegylated interferon α in combination with ribavirin is costly, has significant side effects and fails to cure about half of all infections. The development of in-vitro models such as HCV infection system, HCV sub-genomic replicon, HCV producing pseudoparticles (HCVpp) and infectious HCV virion provide an important tool to develop new antiviral drugs of different targets against HCV. These models also play an important role to study virus lifecycle such as virus entry, endocytosis, replication, release and HCV induced pathogenesis. This review summarizes the most important in-vitro models currently used to study future HCV research as well as drug design.
Persistent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma and the major indication for liver transplantation in adults. Current standard of care treatment (SOC) with pegylated-interferon-α 2 and ribavirin (RBV) has a limited efficacy and is associated with significant side effects frequently associated with poor compliance or treatment discontinuation, requiring specialized and frequent monitoring. To overcome the limited efficacy of SOC, more than 50 direct-acting antiviral agents (DAA) designed to target viral-encoded proteins essential in the HCV life cycle are currently under development. The rapid selection of resistant mutants associated with the quasispecies nature of HCV with high mutation and replication rates is one of the main challenges for the new HCV therapies. Predictive host and viral factors together with combination of DAAs with or without IFN and/or RBV need to be accurately evaluated to design the most effective individualized treatment strategy within the shortest time interval and with minimum side effects.
HCV; treatment; quasispecies; resistance
Hepatitis C (HCV), a leading cause of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma, is the most common indication for liver transplantation in the United States. Although annual incidence of infection has declined since the 1980s, aging of the currently infected population is expected to result in an increase in HCV burden. HCV is prone to develop resistance to antiviral drugs, and despite considerable efforts to understand the virus for effective treatments, our knowledge remains incomplete. This paper reviews HCV resistance mechanisms, the traditional treatment with and the new standard of care for hepatitis C treatment. Although these new treatments remain PEG-IFN-α- and ribavirin-based, they add one of the newly FDA approved direct antiviral agents, telaprevir or boceprevir. This new “triple therapy” has resulted in greater viral cure rates, although treatment failure remains a possibility. The future may belong to nucleoside/nucleotide analogues, non-nucleoside RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibitors, or cyclophilin inhibitors, and the treatment of HCV may ultimately parallel that of HIV. However, research should focus not only on effective treatments, but also on the development of a HCV vaccine, as this may prove to be the most cost-effective method of eradicating this disease.