Giving a renewed hope to patients awaiting liver transplantation, a new research has found that patients with chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and severe liver damage can be taken off the liver transplant list as a result of successful direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy.
Presented on Friday at the International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the study showed that 38 of 142 patients (26.7 per cent) could be removed from the waiting list due to clinical improvement.
Of the 38 patients taken off of the transplant list, one (2.6 per cent) died as a result of rapidly progressing HCC while two other patients (5.2 per cent) had to be relisted or considered for relisting.
“The results of this study are very encouraging with clinical improvement due to direct-acting antiviral therapy lasting over a year in nearly all patients,” said lead author Dr Luca Belli, from Niguarda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
“We still need to follow these patients for much longer to confirm the results and assess the long-term risks of deterioration, but so far the risk of dying after delisting is much lower than that of dying after receiving a liver transplant,” Dr Belli added.
The retrospective European study followed 38 patients who originally had decompensated cirrhosis without liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and were taken off the liver transplant list as a result of clinical improvement after DAA therapy.
Of the patients included in the study, 37 of the 38 were alive at the end of the study and one patient had to be relisted for clinical re-decompensation.
“This study is very important as it shows that HCV therapy may be effective in avoiding or reducing the need of transplantation in a significant number of cases. It is an excellent example of the fact that clearing the Hepatitis C virus can provide immediate advantages for patients, in addition to the longer term advantages,” said Professor Marco Marzioni, Governing Board Member of European Association For the Study of the Liver (EASL).