Friday Science Stuff: The Waning Importance Of Our Chromosome 19’s IL28B Variants — In Hep C Cure Rates

Gilead’s Sovaldi® has made the previous concern — about variants at the IL28B gene (on our ninteenth chromosome) far less meaningful, for Hep C patients. It turns out that — if I had ever contracted Hep C, this variant could be a problem for me (pre 2014). My 23 & Me results confirmed this, about a year ago. But I haven’t — and Sovaldi is now available.

Of greater importance, scientifically speaking, Sovaldi’s existence and FDA approved status means that African Americans and Latinos are equally likely to benefit from the Hep C therapy. Cost remains a very significant problem, but the cure is here — almost regardless of IL28B variant, for all. I write tonight to note that 23 & Me (for logged in users, grandfathered prior to the FDA moratorium) still talks about telaprevir and boceprevir (along with pegylated interferon alpha) — Merck and Vertex offerings, and the IL28B variant problem. So 23 & Me is in significant need of revision — in case you too are reading behind that firewall.

. . . .Since everyone gets a gene from each parent, a person can have an IL28B “CC”, “CT” or “TT” genotype. People with the IL28B CC genotype are more likely to be cured by HCV treatment than people with the TT genotype; cure rates among people with the CT genotype fall somewhere in between. Apparently, the IL28B TT genotype is common among African Americans; it clearly contributes to lower cure rates. . . .

Knowing this information can be helpful to you and your doctor when discussing treatment options, especially with new medications that aren’t affected by the IL-28B gene becoming are now available. . . .

Here’s an earlier 23 & Me largely humorous backgrounder post I put up, last year. Sleep well, and enjoy your weekends — one and all.

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