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Published on 12 November 2008

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Drug cuts heart patient infections

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A protein produced by immune system cells is effective in combating viral infections in patients with heart failure, a study has found.

Research reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2008 showed interferon safely eliminated two viruses from patients’ systems and reduced levels of a third virus.

Lead author Dr Heinz Peter Schultheiss, professor of medicine at the University Medicine of Berlin, Germany, said: “These results from our randomised trial provide the first evidence that interferon beta-1b (IFNB-1b) treatment eliminates cardiotropic viruses and may improve the clinical outcomes of patients with chronic enteroviral and adenoviral heart disease.”

The study found that patients infected with adenovirus and enterovirus who received IFNB-1b were about twice as likely to have improved symptoms 12 weeks after treatment ended.

Results also indicated a reduction in the viral load for parvovirus, but no evidence for complete elimination.

The study showed 38.6% of the interferon patients had an improved New York Heart Association functional classification as compared to 18.6% of those in the placebo group at 12 weeks. However, by the 24th week, the placebo group had improved slightly and the difference between groups was not statistically significant.

Copyright Press Association 2008

American Heart Association



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