A new mathematical model has been created by the University of Surrey, UK, which details how the Hepatitis C (HCV) infection develops and behaves, paving the way for better treatment.
Hepatitis C is a virus that affects an estimated 71 million people globally. The virus infects the liver and if it is left untreated, it has the potential of being life-threatening.
In a new paper published by the journal Viruses, Philip Aston, professor of mathematics at Surrey University, proposes a new mathematical model that may give clinicians and drug manufacturers a better understanding of the effectiveness of drug treatment on the virus.
What is the new model?
The model has put forward three recommendations for changes in the treatment of HCV, which are:
- If the infection is caught and treated in the early stages, then a lower drug dose may be effective in eliminating the infection;
- If the concentration of the virus in a patient’s blood increases after their treatment ends, then continuing with a low level of drug treatment may keep their infection at a small and manageable level; and
- The drug dose could be reduced as treatment progresses, which would reduce the cost of treatment as well as providing a reduction in side effects for the patient.
Aston said: “We have developed a mathematical model that is better able to predict the dynamics of hepatitis C infection during treatment. We believe that this new model provides an opportunity to improve the treatment for patients who are suffering from this illness.”
The virus is normally spread through blood to blood contact and has known noticeable symptoms until the liver becomes significantly damaged.
Symptoms that do eventually surface include:
- Loss of appetite; and
These are however commonly mistaken for other conditions.
Around 1.8 million new HCV infections occur every year, while nearly 400,000 die from the infection every year.
Press release: University of Surrey