Researchers have identified two cellular proteins that are important factors in hepatitis C virus infection, a finding that may result in the approval of new and less toxic treatments for the disease, which can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.
An estimated 270 to 300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C and the conventional treatments interferon and ribavirin can have significant side effects. A new drug targeting cellular proteins rather than viral proteins would be a valuable addition to the treatment arsenal, said Samuel French, an assistant professor of pathology and senior author of the study.
French and his team set out to identify the cellular factors involved in hepatitis C replication and, using mass spectrometry, found that heat shock proteins (HSPs) 40 and 70 were important for viral infection. HSP 70 was previously known to be involved, but HSP 40 was linked for the first time to hepatitis C infection, French said. They further showed that the natural compound Quercetin, which inhibits the synthesis of these proteins, significantly inhibits viral infection in tissue culture.
"This is an important finding because we can block these proteins with the idea of reducing the level of the virus in people and, ideally, completely eliminate it," said French, who also is a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The study appeared in the most recent issue of the journal Hepatology.
Since Quercetin has been shown to inhibit hepatitis C infection, French said, a Phase I clinical trial will be launched at UCLA to determine if the compound is safe and effective.
Quercetin is a plant-derived bioflavonoid, and is used by some people as a nutritional supplement. Laboratory studies show it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it is being investigated for a wide range of potential health benefits. Currently, there are early-stage clinical tria
|Contact: Kim Irwin|
University of California - Los Angeles