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Safety and efficacy of sofosbuvir-velpatasvir to treat chronic hepatitis C virus infection in treatment-naive patients in Rwanda (SHARED-3): a single-arm trial
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March 03, 2022
Fredrick Kateera, Fabienne Shumbusho, Linda Manirambona, Jules Kabihizi, Anthere Murangwa, Janvier Serumondo, Jean Damascene Makuza, Sabin Nsanzimana, Claude Mambo Muvunyi, Jean Damascene Kabakambira, Habarurema Sylvain, Gregory Camus, Philip M Grant, Neil Gupta

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 4 is the predominant type of HCV found in sub-Saharan Africa. Various genotype 4 subtypes, such as 4r, frequently have resistance-associated substitutions that can increase rates of treatment failure with common direct-acting antiviral regimens. In-vitro studies suggest that the NS5A inhibitor velpatasvir is effective against viral isolates containing such resistance-associated substitutions, but its clinical efficacy against genotype 4 non-a/d subtypes in sub-Saharan Africa remains to be confirmed. We aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of sofosbuvir–velpatasvir among adults chronically infected with HCV and naive to direct-acting antiviral treatment in Rwanda, where genotype 4 non-a/d subtypes predominate.
In this single-arm prospective trial, we enrolled adults (age ≥18 years) in Rwanda who had chronic HCV infection and a plasma HCV RNA titre of at least 1000 IU/mL. Patients were referred from hospitals with HCV treatment programmes throughout Rwanda and were sequentially enrolled and assessed for eligibility at a single study site. Individuals with decompensated liver disease or hepatitis B virus co-infection were excluded. Participants were given an oral fixed-dose combination tablet of sofosbuvir (400 mg) and velpatasvir (100 mg) once-daily for 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was the proportion of participants with a sustained virological response 12 weeks after completion of treatment (SVR12) in the intention-to-treat population. Viral sequencing of the NS5A and NS5B genes was done at baseline for all participants and end of follow-up (week 24) for participants who did not have SVR12. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT03888729) and is completed.
Between Sept 23, 2019, and Jan 10, 2020, 73 individuals were screened for eligibility, of whom 12 (16%) were excluded and 61 (84%) were enrolled. 40 (66%) participants were female, 21 (34%) were male, median age was 64 years (IQR 51–74), and median baseline HCV viral load was 5·7 log10 IU/mL (5·2–6·2). The genotypes identified among the participants were 4k (28 [46%] participants), 4r (11 [18%]), 4v (eight [13%]), 4q (five [8%]), 4l (three [5%]), 4b (one [2%]), 4c (one [2%]), and one undetermined genotype 4 subtype. Three isolates could not be sequenced and were of indeterminate genotype. Of the 55 HCV isolates that were successfully sequenced, all had at least two NS5A resistance-associated substitutions. 59 (97% [95% CI 89–99]) participants had SVR12. 18 (30%) participants had grade 3 adverse events (including 12 [20%] with hypertension), and none had grade 4 adverse events. Four (7%) participants had serious adverse events, including one asthma exacerbation, one abscess, one uterine myoma, and one pelvic fracture related to a motor vehicle accident. No serious adverse events were attributed to the study drug and no adverse event resulted in discontinuation of the study drug.
A 12-week regimen of sofosbuvir–velpatasvir is safe and efficacious in treating chronic HCV genotype 4 infection in patients in Rwanda. This regimen could be an effective treatment option in regions known to have a high prevalence of HCV genotype 4 of diverse non-a/d subtypes.

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