People without hepatitis C virus (HCV) can safely and successfully receive kidney transplants from those with the virus and then promptly receive a cure for the virus, MedPage Today reports. If put into practice, such transplants could provide an additional 500 kidneys annually to those in need.

Publishing their findings in a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers conducted an open-label, single-group pilot trial called THINKER that included people with HCV who were on dialysis and expecting to wait a long time for a kidney transplant. Individuals were excluded if they had health conditions that increased the risk of liver disease, transplant failure or death.

The researchers initially identified 38 potential candidates, 22 of whom underwent an educational presentation about the study. Fourteen then provided written informed consent and had their kidney waiting-list profile changed.

A median 58 days after changing their waiting-list profile, 10 of those individuals received kidney transplants from HCV-positive donors.

The transplant recipients received treatment to prevent rejection of their new organ. The researchers measured their hep C viral load the third day following their transplant. All of them were by then officially infected with HCV, and so they received 12 weeks of HCV treatment with Zepatier (grazoprevir/elbasvir).

All 10 individuals achieved a sustained virologic response 12 weeks after completing therapy (SVR12, considered a hep C cure).

Meanwhile, signs indicated that their transplants had gone well.

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

To read the letter to the editor, click here.