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U of S researchers develop new vaccine candidate against hepatitis C

n world, and its annual death toll is expected to triple in the next 10 years. Worldwide, there are about five times more people infected by HCV than with the HIV virus. Treatment of hepatitis C, which like HIV is spread by blood-to-blood contact, is costly and ineffective in about half the patients.

Researchers working in this field have a tough job, says van den Hurk. "The hepatitis C virus is always mutating. For example, one patient can be infected with a strain that spawns sub-strains with different sequences. They are all present at the same time, in the same patient."

The VIDO vaccine uses a viral protein that is common among different strains, ensuring that the vaccine will be effective against them.

The researchers exposed dendritic cells in vitro to a HCV protein. The cells were also exposed to a strong immune stimulator to increase the immune response and then injected into mice as a vaccine. Because HCV does not infect mice, mice were challenged with a carrier virus containing the hepatitis C protein. The levels of HCV protein in immunized mice using this model were five orders of magnitude lower than the control.


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Contact: University of Saskatchewan Communications
communications@usask.ca
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
10-Jan-2006


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