An over-the-counter drug used to treat allergy symptoms inhibited hepatitis C virus activity in infected mice, indicating that the drug, chlorcyclizine HCl, potentially could be used to treat the virus in people, according to a new National Institutes of Health study.
“Although hepatitis C is curable, there is an unmet need for effective and affordable medication,” said T. Jake Liang, M.D., Lead Author and Senior Investigator, at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “CCZ is a promising candidate for part of a treatment regimen for this potentially life-threatening disease.”
The study, found that CCZ blocked the early stage of HCV infection likely by impairing the ability of the virus to enter human liver cells grafted in the mice. The outcome was similar to that of commonly used antiviral drugs but without those drugs’ toxic side effects.
Next, the researchers will study how the drug affects people.
“People should not take CCZ to treat their hepatitis C until it has been demonstrated that CCZ can be used safely and effectively for that purpose,” said Liang.