Study Finds Hepatitis C Drugs May Help Alleviate Symptoms of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental condition that affects roughly 3.5% of American adults each year. Around 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with the condition within their lifetime, with women being two times more likely to develop PTSD than men. PTSD is more prevalent in veterans, children and people who have been through traumatic events.

But even though the condition affects millions of Americans each year, the FDA has only approved two drugs to treat it — paroxetine and sertraline — and these substances are only mildly effective against PTSD symptoms.

For the past two years, researchers from the White River Junction Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Vermont and the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have been investigating whether there are existing drugs that could be effective at mitigating PTSD symptoms. An analysis of a national database of VA patients revealed something interesting:  direct-acting antivirus medications prescribed for hepatitis C could alleviate some symptoms of PTSD.

The researchers published their findings in the “Biological Psychiatry” journal before beginning work on a follow-up study to determine the effectiveness of the DAA medications identified in the first study against PTSD symptoms. This study was a much more rigorous analysis of the effectiveness of DAAs that are most prescribed by the VA in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The researchers found that the combination of pibrentasvir and glecaprevir had the largest impact on PTSD symptom improvement compared to other commonly prescribed DAAs.

Jaimie Gradus, BUSPH associate professor of epidemiology, senior study author and coprincipal investigator of the study, stated that while PTSD was prevalent in American society, there are limited approved treatments and drug-development efforts for the condition. Treatments such as psychotherapy may work well in many cases, but they are time intensive and have high rates of treatment dropout, said Gradus, noting that it is crucial that more treatment options are made available for PTSD patients.

Researchers from Geisel, Havard Medical School and BUSPH examined 254 VA patients who had been diagnosed with both hepatitis C and PTSD from October 1999 to September 2019. The patients received one combination of hepatitis C drugs including sofosbuvir and velpatasvir (SOF/VEL),  glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (GLE/PIB), and ledipasvir and sofosbuvir (LDV/SOF).

After monitoring PTSD and HCV symptoms of the participants for 8 to 12 weeks and adjusting for variables that could affect results, such as liver disease diagnoses and opioid prescription use, the research team found that the GLE/PIB combination could improve PTSD symptoms.

Researchers said the level of symptom improvement seen after administering the drug combo was impressive, being more than two times more effective than paroxetine and sertraline, which are FDA-approved PTSD treatments.

While this study focused on addressing the symptoms of PTSD, other companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) are interested in treating the condition from its root, thereby negating the need to manage symptoms. To this end, the company is devoting plenty of resources to its R&D department with a special focus on psychedelics such as DMT and psilocybin.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (NYSE American: CYBN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CYBN

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