Biotron’s shares made a gigantic leap in the stock market Thursday, not because of management reshuffling or a trendy new product, but because the company has found a way to cure Hepatitis C, reported The Australian.
An antiviral drug, BIT255, that was invented by the company has shown extremely promising test results. The drug was administered to a group of HIV+ patients also suffering from Hepatitis C. Despite the low-functioning immune systems of the test subjects due to their HIV status, none of them showed showed any residual signs of Hepatitis C — even weeks after the treatment ended. The initial tests, carried out in Bangkok over the course of a year, have given the company a huge boost of confidence, but more trials will be carried out before the end of the year to assure that the drug is safe and effective.
That hasn’t stopped any premature celebration at Biotron, according to Michelle Miller, Biotron’s managing director. The company is almost positive that they have found a cure for Hepatitis C.
“We look forward to progressing commercialization of BIT225 as a valuable new therapy that will work in combination with current and future treatment strategies.”
A cure for Hepatitis C would be extremely beneficial in the United States. More than 3.2 million Americans are infected with the virus (75 percent of whom are baby boomers) — even though at least half probably don’t know it. Hepatitis C can attack your liver unnoticed for years until it causes serious damage to the organ with diseases like cirrhosis or cancer. The stigma of Hepatitis C has, much like HIV, been difficult to shake — many people still see it as a sickness of the sexually promiscuous or intravenous drug users. However, says Dr. Daniel Johnson, chief of academic pediatrics at the University of Chicago Medicine, this stereotype is false, particularly because testing for Hepatitis C in blood transfusions was not mandatory before 1992, reported The Chicago Tribune.
“This isn’t just a fringe population. If you’ve ever had unprotected sex, many sexual partners or had a partner who has had many partners, you’re at risk. If you ever had something like a femur fracture (when you were a child) that might need a blood transfusion… you could be at risk.”
Hepatitis C is the most common in baby boomers — anyone born between 1945 and 1965 is especially cautioned to get tested for the virus. New treatment options like BIT255 don’t have a price tag yet, but alternative therapies for Hepatitis C like a pill released last year called Sovaldi, can run patients around $1,000 a day.
[Image via Flickr and The Naked Scientist]