Pharmacogenomics of hepatitis C infections: personalizing therapy

Genome Med. 2012 Dec 26;4(12):99. doi: 10.1186/gm400. eCollection 2012.


It is a widely held view that drug response genes have not proved as useful in clinical practice as anticipated at the start of the genomic era. An exception is in the treatment for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection with pegylated interferon α and ribavirin. In 2009, four independent genome-wide analyses identified IL28B polymorphisms that predict drug response in chronic hepatitis C (CHC). This discovery had immediate clinical impact. First, the IL28B genotype could be used to personalize therapy. In the 2 years since discovery, most of the more than 100,000 CHC patients commencing therapy for CHC in the West will have considered IL28B genotype testing. Second, the discovery has supported clinical trials for the use of the protein encoded by the gene known as interferon lambda. Third, it is expected that new insights into HCV pathogenesis will follow from studies of how IL28B affects HCV viral clearance and, ultimately, this will lead to new therapeutic strategies for CHC. This review discusses how IL28B genotyping is now used in personalizing therapy and, with the dramatically changing clinical landscape in CHC, with the advent of direct-acting antivirals, the prospects ahead.

Publication types

  • Review