It was a daring experiment aimed at expanding the supply of donor organs:  Transplant  kidneys infected with hepatitis C into uninfected patients, then give them a powerful new drug to banish the virus.
The strategy worked flawlessly in separate pilot studies at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University, researchers reported Sunday at the American Transplant Congress in Chicago.
The insidious virus was eradicated in all the kidney transplant recipients — 10 each at Penn and Hopkins — with a 12-week course of Zepatier. The maker, Merck, donated its $55,000 drug.
“I’m really excited by these results,” said Penn kidney transplant specialist Peter P. Reese, who co-led the trailblazing effort with Penn liver transplant specialist David S. Goldberg. “My life’s mission is to help people get more transplants, because there’s such a shortage.”
At Hopkins, Niraj Desai, director of the kidney transplant program, echoed, “This has the potential to enable 500 to 1,000 more …