WebMD Health News
Brunilda Nazario, MD
Dec. 6, 2007 -- Scientists have discovered antibodies that target the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The
findings may lead to a preventive hepatitis C vaccine.
The hepatitis C virus can cause liver damage and can be deadly.
There is no hepatitis C vaccine. That's partly because "extreme
variability" in HCV makes the virus a difficult target, write Mansun Law,
PhD, and colleagues.
Law works in the immunology department at the Scripps Research Institute in
La Jolla, Calif.
Law's team found antibodies that neutralize various forms of the hepatitis C
virus. They tested those antibodies against the HCV virus in mice.
The researchers injected the antibodies into some mice. For comparison,
other mice didn't get the antibodies.
After that, all of the mice were exposed to HCV. Six days later, the HCV
virus was gone from the mice that had received the antibodies -- but the
hepatitis C virus lingered in the other mice.
The antibodies' effects against HCV faded with time, and high doses of the
antibodies were needed to curb HCV.
More work is needed, but the results are "favorable" for the
prospects of developing a hepatitis C vaccine, write Law and colleagues.
Their findings appear in today's advance online edition of Nature
SOURCES: Law, M. Nature Medicine, Dec. 6, 2007; advance online
edition. CDC: "Hepatitis C Fact Sheet." News release,
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