A team of Penn Medicine scientists recently conducted a clinical trial using kidneys from deceased donors who had Hepatitis C virus (HCV), providing a potential opportunity for those in need of a kidney transplant.
The first participant in the clinical trial received a kidney transplant in July. After being treated with a full regimen of Zepatier, a recently-approved oral medication prescribed to eradicate HCV, the patient’s doctors announced that there is no evidence of the virus in the patient’s blood. The Penn Medicine team said that if the new approach is successful, it could potentially provide a lifesaving kidney transplant for patients who do not have HCV.
“There are more than 99,000 Americans who are awaiting a kidney transplant,” Dr. Peter Reese, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Penn Medicine, said. “Yet despite very long waiting times for transplant, hundreds of otherwise good kidneys from deceased donors infected with Hepatitis C are discarded each year. If we can demonstrate that it’s possible to eradicate HCV from patients who contract the virus from a transplant, this approach could open up access to an entirely new pool of donor organs that are currently being discarded. Ultimately, our hope is that this trial will show that it is possible, and will then afford far more patients who are on the waiting list an opportunity to receive a lifesaving transplant much sooner.”