New mouse model for hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus infects in the region of 170 million people around the world and creates an increased risk of cirrhosis, liver failure and cancer. Because the hepatitis C virus only infects humans and chimpanzees it has been difficult to develop vaccines and other treatments.
Now scientists have introduced two human genes into mice which make the mice cells produce 'entry factors' that allow the hepatitis virus to infect the cells and replicate. However, the rate of viral replication in the mouse is less than in humans so scientists also introduced a 'reporter gene' that produces detectable luminescence when the hepatitis virus enters a mouse cell.
This new mouse model for hepatitis C will allow scientists to try out potential vaccines and other treatments to prevent the disease.