Congratulations are due to Professor Graham Foster and his team in the Centre for Immunobiology for the below publication. Hepatitis C is a global problem and this treatment will go a long way to reducing the global burden of this disease. The impact of this work cannot be underestimated.  

N Engl J Med. 2015 Dec 31;373(27):2608-17. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1512612. Epub 2015 Nov 17.

Sofosbuvir and Velpatasvir for HCV Genotype 2 and 3 Infection.

Foster GRAfdhal NRoberts SKBräu NGane EJPianko SLawitz EThompson AShiffman MLCooper CTowner WJConway BRuane PBourlière M,Asselah TBerg TZeuzem SRosenberg WAgarwal KStedman CAMo HDvory-Sobol HHan LWang JMcNally JOsinusi ABrainard DMMcHutchison JG,Mazzotta FTran TTGordon SCPatel KReau NMangia ASulkowski MASTRAL-2 InvestigatorsASTRAL-3 Investigators.

Collaborators (127)

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In phase 2 trials, treatment with the combination of the nucleotide polymerase inhibitor sofosbuvir and the NS5A inhibitor velpatasvir resulted in high rates of sustained virologic response in patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2 or 3.

METHODS:

We conducted two randomized, phase 3, open-label studies involving patients who had received previous treatment for HCV genotype 2 or 3 and those who had not received such treatment, including patients with compensated cirrhosis. In one trial, patients with HCV genotype 2 were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive sofosbuvir-velpatasvir, in a once-daily, fixed-dose combination tablet (134 patients), or sofosbuvir plus weight-based ribavirin (132 patients) for 12 weeks. In a second trial, patients with HCV genotype 3 were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive sofosbuvir-velpatasvir for 12 weeks (277 patients) or sofosbuvir-ribavirin for 24 weeks (275 patients). The primary end point for the two trials was a sustained virologic response at 12 weeks after the end of therapy.

RESULTS:

Among patients with HCV genotype 2, the rate of sustained virologic response in the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group was 99% (95% confidence interval [CI], 96 to 100), which was superior to the rate of 94% (95% CI, 88 to 97) in the sofosbuvir-ribavirin group (P=0.02). Among patients with HCV genotype 3, the rate of sustained virologic response in the sofosbuvir-velpatasvir group was 95% (95% CI, 92 to 98), which was superior to the rate of 80% (95% CI, 75 to 85) in the sofosbuvir-ribavirin group (P<0.001). The most common adverse events in the two studies were fatigue, headache, nausea, and insomnia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among patients with HCV genotype 2 or 3 with or without previous treatment, including those with compensated cirrhosis, 12 weeks of treatment with sofosbuvir-velpatasvir resulted in rates of sustained virologic response that were superior to those with standard treatment with sofosbuvir-ribavirin. (Funded by Gilead Sciences; ASTRAL-2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02220998; and ASTRAL-3, NCT02201953.).

Comment in

Simple, Effective, but Out of Reach? Public Health Implications of HCV Drugs. [N Engl J Med. 2015]

 

The iconic RIBA award winning building was opened by Princess Anne in October 2005, and over the past ten years has seen major advances in the research areas of cell biology, genomics, immunology, neuroscience, trauma, primary care and public health.

Major discoveries include identifying a number of genetic variants related to skin disorders, cardiomyopathy and oesophageal cancer by the Kelsell group in the Institute’s Centre for Cell Biology and Cutaneous Research. Similar major genetic discoveries have also been made in coeliac disease, diabetes and, by the team of Dokal and Vulliamy, in blood disorders.

Early construction of Blizard building
Blizard Early Construction

More recently in March 2015, funded by the Wellcome Trust, MRC and Barts and The London Charity, the East London Genes & Health project was launched led by David van Heel - a huge long-term study of 100,000 people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin. In the UK as a whole, these groups have a high burden of chronic disease for instance they have five times the rates of diabetes than the rest of the population and suffer poorer health by a number of other measures. The study therefore aims to look at the genetic makeup of volunteers to understand more about the nature of a range of illnesses in the community.

Graham Hitman in the Centre for Genomics and Child Health is the co-ordinator of a €3 million EU-funded multidisciplinary project - the GIFTS Clinical Trial – which is looking at the early life determinants of Type 2 diabetes and obesity in people of South Asian origin in Europe and South Asia; this involves many other groups in the Blizard including Women’s Health, Genomics and Child Health, Health Economics and Social Sciences.

Principal greets the Princess Royal outside Blizard
Principal greets the Princess Royal outside Blizard

In February 2014, the Blizard Institute launched a £40m National Institute for Health Research collaboration to join up innovative research tackling some of the major health challenges in the North Thames region, including child and adolescent health, mental health and behaviour change.

The bid for the ‘North Thames CLAHRC’ was submitted via UCL Partners, with Blizard members playing a major role, and Professor Jonathan Grigg appointed as its Deputy Director.

Its projects include the design and testing of a school-based asthma intervention, improving dementia care and early recognition of dementia for ethnic minority groups, testing an online intervention to reduce harmful alcohol intake, and improving the identification and management of domestic violence by the NHS.

Blizard Building interior - Morley von Sternberg
Blizard Building interior - Morley von Sternberg

The building has also played a major role in inspiring local school children to step into higher education. September 2009 saw the opening of Centre of the Cell, the first science education centre in the world to be located within working biomedical research laboratories. Since the Centre began inviting school groups to learn about the world of cells, the human body and the latest medical research, it has had over 100,000 visitors to its science shows, workshops and lectures.

Professor Graham Hitman, Director of QMUL’s Blizard Institute, said: “At the outset we asked the architect Will Alsop to design us a building that would rejuvenate the local area in Whitechapel and act as a magnet for high quality research by attracting the best scientists and the prosecution of translational science – the result has been outstanding and undoubtedly contributed to our very high performance in the last two research assessment exercises.”

Students triumph at Biotechnology Entrepreneurs Scheme

A team of Queen Mary postgraduate students are through to the final of the annual Biotechnology YES (Young Entrepreneur Scheme) competition.

Now in its 20th year, Biotechnology YES is a national business competition for postgraduate students, funded by 

the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council and industry.  The aim of the scheme is to raise awareness and develop skills associated with the commercialisation of bioscience research.

Teams of early careers researchers across the UK attended the three-day residential workshop at GlaxoSmithKline in Stevenage earlier in October, which culminated in a Dragon’s Den-style pitch where participants presented their hypothetical business plan, based on a scientifically plausible idea.

The central idea of the Queen Mary team focused on healing wounds: their fictional company, “Gexoderm”, created an anti-microbial wound healing gel that decreases the time taken for pressure ulcers to heal. They presented their idea to leading business specialists, including the CEO of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst.

Ambika Kumar, one of the PhD students based in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences who was part of the winning team, commented:

“Taking part in the competition has given us a great insight and valuable experience into the business potential of our research, which is something we wouldn’t have necessarily got in our everyday work.  Roll on the final!"

Over 100 people took part in this competition, with only a few selected to take part in the final in London on Thursday 10 December 2015.  The winners will win £2,500 and a chance to attend the Rice Business Plan Competition in Texas, USA.

The Queen Mary team consisted on two PhD students from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and three from the Blizard Institute: