Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Near End for Hepititis C Virus

Nearly 3% of the world's population suffers from the hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Most people who have hepatitis C received it from sharing needles or blood transfusions. There is currently no human vaccine for the hepatitis C virus because of the frequency of mutations it goes through.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen recently developed a vaccine which protects mice from HCV. Since the virus mutates so frequently, developers Peter Holst, Prof. Allan Thomsen and associate professor Jan Christensen found a way to stimulate and accelerating the immune system. Also, the vaccine allows the body to attack parts of the virus which mutates less frequently. The vaccine has not yet been tested on humans, but is effective for mice.

If the vaccine works for humans, the spread of the hepatitis C Virus could stop spreading, if people at risk receive the vaccine. Before the development for a human HCV vaccine is produced, researchers must make a vaccine that works on macaque monkeys. The world may be a safer place from the virus of hepatitis C.

Posted by Reed Allen (1)


  1. That's pretty amazing that Hepititis C could become a thing of the past in the not too distant future. I wonder if these kinds of breakthroughs could bring scientists closer to a cure for AIDS. Also, do you know what other animals besides macaque monkeys are used as subjects for vaccination trials before moving onto human trials?

    Posted by Kevin McLaughlin

  2. This method for accelerating the immune system and blocking the virus from mutating as much is an ingenious way to go about the vaccine for Hep C. If the immune system is essentially updating itself more often, it would make sense that the body would be better prepared for the rapidly mutating virus. I can also see this causing problems at the same time since an overactive immune system can cause other diseases where the body essentially attacks healthy cells. This definitely seems like a step in the right direction and has some promise in its future.

    Posted by Marlena Grasso

  3. I am curious of the long term effects accelerating the immune system constantly. Mice only live for a few years, which may or may not be a substantial amount of time to accurately describe other possible side effects. The same concern applies for the macaques. It can take ten years or more for a new drug to be put on the market, it seems that this research is only about half way through the process.

  4. Given the importance of a drug that could cure such a powerful virus, I am surprised there is no mention of fast-tracking the drug. Has there been any word on doing this?

    On a second note, I am familiar with the clinical trials process and understand that macaques should be the next logical animal to do studies with. That said, the mouse-model is so widely used well understood that, should the drug be effective in mice, it is likely to be effective in macaques and humans. Either way, best of luck to the researchers. It sounds like they really hit a home-run on this one.

    Posted by: Alexander Simolaris

  5. I would like to see how this innovation progresses in the following years. A person in my family actually suffers from hepatitis (not sure which one) but he received it from a blood transfusion. I would like to live to see the day when my family would be relieved from this illness. It is interesting to know that the vaccine developed accelerates the immune system. If it responds positively in the human body, this vaccine could be a stepping-stone for future vaccines for other diseases.

    Posted by Nelson MIlano

  6. Although this is an amazing discovery, I think we have quite some time to wait until we see the decline of HCV. It will certainly take a long period of time to get to the point where this vaccine will be approved for human use. I also would not be surprised if many people reacted to this vaccine's release in the same way that some people did to the release of Gardasil, reluctant to receive the vaccination in fear of unknown side effects. But with such positive potential, we can only the HCV will be produced with no risks to be afraid of so that the rates of Hepatitis C can finally be lowered.

    Posted by Brianna Lee

  7. Marlena, I agree it is a clever way to attack the virus but, I disagree that they would release the drug with any major side-effect. It is more likely for them to delay the release until it is suitable for human use. As Brianna said mentioned, people may be reluctant to receive the vaccination in fear of unknown side effects

    Posted by Reed Allen