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Biomedical Hepatitis C Treatment Hopeful

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 24, 2008 10:51 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Hepatitis C, Drug Products

Biotechnology may offer a cure for hepatitis C.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ Wikipedia/ Public domain  

This positive news coming out of Scripps Florida, a new biomedical research institute in Jupiter, holds promise for the development of new therapies to treat hepatitis C. 

Scientists there say they have found a way to disrupt the virus particles that lead to hepatitis C.

Timothy Tellinghuisen and his colleagues used mutations in the virus to interfere with virus-particle production. 

The NS5A phosphoprotein is thought to regulate the life cycle of the hepatitis C virus by helping it make infectious copies of itself.  When it is mutated it releases no infectious virus that can be detected. This discovery could lead to the development of new therapies.

"Total disruption of the replication process would be a cure for the disease, he adds, and that's the team's long-term goal," said Tellinghuisen.

Currently there is no treatment for the majority of patients infected with the virus strains that lead to most cases of hepatitis C.

The blood borne virus infects more than three percent of the population, as many as four million in the U.S. many of whom do not know they are infected. It is five to seven times more prevalent than HIV.

Hepatitis C can result from illegal drug use, sharing needles or as we’ve seen in the Las Vegas clinic cases, from a vial contaminated with hepatitis C after a syringe was reused on an infected patient. 

People who received blood transfusions before donor screening in 1991 and healthcare workers who get a needle stick as well as dialysis patients are all at risk of contracting hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C destroys the liver and causes inflammation cirrhosis and carcinoma. Drug therapies have had a small margin of success.

This treatment appears in the March issue of PLoS Pathogens. #


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