New research has found that warfarin may help prevent liver failure in thousands of hepatitis C patients.
In a study published on 1 August 2008 in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, researchers showed that warfarin reduces scarring – or fibrosis – on the liver that can lead to cirrhosis or liver failure.
Warfarin is currently used to prevent and treat blood clots in patients with artificial heart valves, deep vein thrombosis and some other conditions.
Dr Quentin Anstee, an MRC clinical research fellow and the corresponding author of the study from Imperial College London, said: “If we have positive results from the new trial, we will have a potential treatment that is already available and very cheap, and which should be safe enough for people to take.”
The research looked at how warfarin affected the progression of fibrosis in mice with chronic liver injury, and found it was significantly reduced. The Imperial College of London researchers are now intiating a clinical trial of warfarin as a treatment for people with hepatitis C.
There are 300,000 people in the UK who suffer with chronic hepatitis C and one in five of those will develop cirrhosis.