Surrey: The University of Surrey recently created a new mathematical model, to assess how the Hepatitis C (HCV) infection develops and behaves. This new model has the potential to improve treatment modalities for the infection that affects 215,000 people in the United Kingdom.
HCV is a virus that infects the liver and, if left untreated, can potentially be life-threatening. This virus spreads through blood to blood contact and often doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms, until the liver is significantly damaged. The symptoms to be taken note of include, increased feeling of tiredness, loss of appetite and vomiting – these basic looking symptoms are regularly overlooked and mistaken for other manageable conditions.
A paper published by the journal Viruses, Professor of Mathematics Philip Aston proposed a new mathematical model that may give clinicians and drug manufacturers a better understanding of the effect of drug treatment on the virus. The model was developed by taking account of recent biological insights into the dynamics of the infection and incorporating these into the model.
The new model has offered three recommendations, to bring about changes in the treatment of HCV:
- 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.
- The drug dose could be reduced as treatment progresses, that would result in cost reduction of treatment, as well as a noticeable reduction in side effects faced by patients.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 71 million people are suffering from chronic HCV infection, that has a high affinity of developing in to Liver Cirrhosis or liver cancer. Around 1.8 million new HCV infections occur each year and almost 400,000 people die from the infection, annually.
Philip Aston, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Surrey and author of the paper, stated that, “This mathematical model 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 serious illness.”