Japanese researchers have used infusions of naturallyproduced beta-interferon to cure hepatitis C.

The researchers, reporting Saturday in The Lancet, gaveintravenous infusions of interferon beta prepared fromcultured cells to 11 patients for a month, and simply followedthe conditions of another 14 patients. All had liver damagethat showed acute hepatitis.

At the end of a three-year follow up, all but one patient giveninterferon showed normal liver test values and no viral RNA.By contrast, only one of the control patients lost the viral RNA.

The researchers from Chiba University in Japan used ChironCorp.'s test to detect HCV antibody and viral RNA.

The researchers concluded, "Our study shows that even insmall doses interferon treatment in the early phase of HCVinfection might be very effective in eradicating the virus."

And given that non-A, non-B hepatitis often progresses to livercancer, the interferon treatment may "eventually decrease theincidence of hepatocellular carcinoma," the researchers said.

The beta interferon was made by Toray Industries Inc. ofTokyo.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.