The first human clinical trials have started on a new drug developed to treat infections caused by the hepatitis C virus. The medication, taken orally, was first prepared at the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University in 2008. Laboratory tests showed it killed 90% of the virus at very low concentration.
Trials in healthy volunteers to assess the drug's safety are being held before its effectiveness on patients is tested in trials next year. Approximately 170m people around the world are affected by hepatitis C, which can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis and can be fatal. It is the leading cause of liver transplantation in western countries.
The current treatment involves two drugs - ribavirin and interferon, which has to be given as an injection. Side effects are often severe and lead to patients failing to complete the treatment.