Novel treatment to tackle Hepatitis C

11 December 2009

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Category: Research & medical benefits

microscope–invitro–lab.jpgTargeting host molecules instead of the virus has proved successful in killing the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), research on chimpanzees has found.

Targeting host molecules instead of the virus has produced success in killing the Hepatitis C virus (HCV)research on chimpanzees has found.

HCV is dependent on a host molecule of RNA in order to survive. The RNA molecule, referred to as miR-122, is involved in the regulation of many genes in the body.Researchers think this molecule may help the virus in replication or disguising it from the immune system.

To find out, a team of scientists conducted a trial in which they administered a special miR-122 blocking chemical to four HVC positive chimpanzees.Two of the chimpanzees were given a low dose of the blocking treatment, the others a high dose. The high dose resulted in an HCV reduction of 99.5%. What's more, the virus didn't develop any resistance to the medication.

Approximately 170 million people worldwide are infected by HCV. The virus affects the liver and can lead to advanced scarring which may result in liver failure or cancer. Treatment combining two antiviral drugs is available providing a 50-80% eradication success rate. New medicines have been manufactured but the virus has been able to develop a resistance to them.

This breakthrough could increase the effectiveness of current HCV treatments. However the researchers would like to see further research into the side effects of the new drug for its safety in human trials.