OCT 06, 2015 08:04 AM PDT

Curing Hepatitis C and the Potential for Vaccines

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
The Nova Scotia Health Authority in Canada is leading a hepatitis C study at the Prince Edward Island's (PEI) provincial correctional center. Hepatitis C is an RNA virus that mutates quickly. It affects about 2.7 million people in the United States (CDC). Ongoing infection with hepatitis C majorly contributes to chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C can be cured, but there's no vaccine to prevent infection. Thus, people cannot prevent ever getting the viral infection in the first place OR protect themselves from contracting the virus a second time after being cured. 

The PEI study is utilizing the highly successful new direct-acting antiviral hepatitis C drugs (90-97% cure sucess) in a correctional facility that has a 23% infection rate of hepatitis C. The study's goals are twofold; scientists plan to reduce the prevalence of hepatitis C infections in the facility as well as see how the the new medication protects patients against reinfection. The new drugs have few side effects and can be taken orally, making them much better candidates for use in correctional facitlities than previous treatments, which were "given intravenously over long periods of time, with side effects including pain, fatigue and low blood counts" (Medical Xpress). 
A Time Course Progression of a Chronic Hepatitis C Infection

Ongoing research focused on providing a vaccine for hepatitis C continues and was discussed in an August journal article in Current Opinion in Immunology. Since hepatitis C largely contributes to chronic liver disease, the goal of hepatitis C vaccine research is specifically preventing recurring infections, rather than to "induce sterilizing immunity" (Current Opinion in Immunology). Decreasing the overall burden of chronic liver disease is a priority.

Current potential vaccines undergoing clinical trials include:
  1. non-structural hepatitis C viral proteins that induce CD8+ T cell immunity
  2. recombinant hepatitis C viral envelope proteins that are targeted by neutralizing antibodies
Curing and then preventing future hepatitis C infections with a vaccine will be especially important for individuals in high-risk populations, like in the Canadian correctional facility. Although the role of antibodies verus T cells in providing the most protective immunity is still intensely debated, ongoing research will soon tell if developing a vaccine for hepatitis C is possible. Even more, initiatives like the PEI study could help determine whether the new direct-acting antiviral agents make T cell immunity more or less possible in preventing against hepatitis C infections. 

Check out the video below to learn more about the pathology of a hepatitis C infection. 


Source: Medical Xpress
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
MAY 22, 2018
Cancer
MAY 22, 2018
Novel PD-L1/TGF-ß Fusion Protein for HPV-Associated Cancers Enters Phase II Clinical Trial
Novel PD-L1/TGF-ß fusion protein for HPV-associated cancers enters phase II clinical trial. Oncology researchers excited about the potential of this bi-functional protein to combat cancer...
JUL 19, 2018
Videos
JUL 19, 2018
Hazmat Spill at Johns Hopkins
Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill...
JUL 21, 2018
Immunology
JUL 21, 2018
Gut Cells and the Immune System Curriculum
Recent study shows that sensory cells native to the gut are found in Hassall's corpuscles in the thymus, these are shown to play a role in the education of T cells in self vs. non-self....
JUL 30, 2018
Immunology
JUL 30, 2018
Traumatic Childhood to Addiction, an Immune System Problem
Childhood adversity alters the immune system which contributes to increased risk of addiction as an adult....
AUG 18, 2018
Immunology
AUG 18, 2018
Two Proteins Play Unexpected Role in Immune System Regulators
Two proteins, PLD3 and PLD4, discovered to have role in immune system detection and response to pathogens....
AUG 28, 2018
Drug Discovery
AUG 28, 2018
Combination Therapy for Advanced Melonoma
According to a research study led by UCLA, a bacteria-like agent used in combination with an immunotherapeutic drug may help patients survive longer with a...
Loading Comments...