Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Medicine, Health Care > Breakthrough Opens New Avenues for… >
Breakthrough Opens New Avenues for Hep C Vaccine

Published: September 13, 2011.
By University of New South Wales
http://www.unsw.edu.au

Hopes for an effective vaccine and treatment against the potentially fatal hepatitis C virus (HCV) have received a major boost following the discovery of two 'Achilles' heels' within the virus.

A team of medical researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) studied individuals at high risk of HCV infection, including a number identified within a few weeks of the onset of infection.

Using a new technique called next generation deep sequencing and sophisticated computer analytics the team, led by Professor Andrew Lloyd and Associate Professor Peter White, were able to identify the 'founder' virus responsible for the initial infection and then track changes within the virus as it was targeted by the immune system.

"We discovered that hepatitis C has not one but two 'Achilles' heels' that provide opportunities for vaccine development," said Dr Fabio Luciani, from UNSW's Inflammation and Infection Research Centre and the research team's biostatistician.

"If we can help the immune system to attack the virus at these weak points early on, then we could eliminate the infection in the body completely," he said.

A paper describing the breakthrough appears in the leading scientific journal in the field of virology, PLoS Pathogens.

Hepatitis C virus infection is a global pandemic with more than 120 million people infected worldwide, including some 200,000 Australians. The virus causes progressive liver disease leading to cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. Current antiviral treatments are arduous, costly, and only partially effective.

Team member and virologist Dr Rowena Bull said the discovery of the weakest links meant vaccine researchers could now focus their attentions on the most likely avenues for success.

"The first weak point was identified at transmission, when the virus has to survive the transfer from one individual to another," Dr Bull said.

"The second weakness, and surprise finding, was the significant drop in the diversity of the viral variants in each individual studied, occurring about three months after transmission, around the time where the immune system is starting to combat the virus. A lower number of variants means the virus is easier to target."

Study leader Professor Lloyd said the discoveries were significant because of their potential to overcome longstanding barriers to hepatitis C vaccine development.

"To date hepatitis C has been difficult to target with single interventions because there are many different strains of the virus," he said. "In addition, like HIV, the hepatitis C virus mutates very rapidly and exists as a complex family of mutated viruses within every infected individual, meaning the virus can avoid efforts by the immune system to keep it under control," Professor Lloyd said.

"What's more, a third of infected people can have an effective immune response that eliminates the virus early on. This means key initial immune responses were difficult to identify and study because early infection and elimination can go unrecognised."

Professor Lloyd said work is now underway to identify the key immunological features of the founder viruses in order to guide new vaccines.

"Further research will test the extent of the immune response against these founder viruses in a cohort of very early infected individuals," he said.


Show Reference »


Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ScienceNewsline.
Related »

Blood 
8/22/11 
The Ignored Virus That Causes Liver Cancer
By Inderscience Publishers
Hepatitis G virus was identified in 1995. Some little research was carried out on the virus and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared it a non-harmful virus …
Hepatitis 
6/28/11 
Will New Drugs Block Hepatitis C Virus in Its Tracks?
By University of Leeds
Targeted multi-drug treatments for hepatitis C patients that could stop the virus in its tracks have come a step closer, thanks to researchers at the University of Leeds, UK. …
Virus 
2/19/14 
Rutgers Scientists Identify Structure of Virus That Could Lead to Hepatitis C Vaccine
By Rutgers University
Rutgers University scientists have determined the structure of a hepatitis C surface protein, a finding that could assist in the development of a vaccine to halt the spread of …
Energy 
6/7/10 
New Use for Old Drugs in Treating Hepatitis C
By University of Leeds
Common drugs used to treat conditions such as diabetes and obesity could be used to successfully treat hepatitis C virus infection. Research led by the University of Leeds …
Virus 
4/4/13 
Hepatitis a Virus Discovered to Cloak Itself in Membranes Hijacked from Infected Cells
By University of North Carolina Health Care
CHAPEL HILL, N.C – Viruses have historically been classified into one of two types – those with an outer lipid-containing envelope and those without an envelope. For the first …
Virus 
11/17/10 
Structure of Lassa Virus Protein Reveals Viral Thievery
By Emory University
Scientists at Emory University and the University of St. Andrews have solved the structure of a key protein from Lassa virus, which is endemic to West Africa and can …
Chronic 
9/23/13 
Patient Heal Thyself: Solution to Treatment for Chronic Infections Could Lie in Patient's Blood
By Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
1.A recent discovery by scientists at A*STAR's Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS), in close collaboration with researchers at the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), provides hope for a new …
More » 

Most Popular - Medicine »
MARIJUANA »
Casual Marijuana Use Linked to Brain Abnormalities in Students
CHICAGO --- Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report. The study was …
TUMORS »
The Immune System's Redesigned Role in Fighting Cancerous Tumors
LOS ANGELES (March 11, 2014) – Researchers in the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute eradicated solid tumors in laboratory mice using a novel combination of two targeted agents. …
INFLUENZA »
Ginseng Can Treat And Prevent Influenza And RSV, Researcher Finds
ATLANTA--Ginseng can help treat and prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages, according to research findings by a scientist …
PROTEINS »
MSU Physicists Push New Parkinson's Treatment Toward Clinical Trials
MUTATIONS »
Applying Math to Biology: Software Identifies Disease-causing Mutations in Undiagnosed Illnesses
(SALT LAKE CITY)–A computational tool developed at the University of Utah (U of U) has successfully identified diseases with unknown gene mutations in three separate cases, U of U …
ScienceNewsline  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese
The selection and placement of stories are determined automatically by a computer program. All contents are copyright of their owners except U.S. Government works. U.S. Government works are assumed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted. Everything else copyright ScienceNewsline.