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Novel antibody prevents infection by hepatitis C virus
Date:5/5/2009

high-dose of the antibody to the animal that originally received no antibody, and in that case the HCV was cleared from that animal's system. "These results are encouraging as a possible treatment for HCV infected patients, but more work needs to be done before we know how effective it will be in people," Dr. Ambrosino noted.

HCV attacks the liver and can eventually lead to liver failure. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.2 million Americans are chronically infected with HCV and some 10,000 die annually of the disease. Globally, as many as 170 million people are estimated to suffer from HCV infection. For the most serious cases of HCV that do not respond to antiviral drugs, liver transplantation is the only option.

Typically 2,000 to 4,000 liver transplants are done each year in the United States (far less than the number of people on the waiting list for available organs). Transplantation can be a life saving treatment; however, in nearly all cases the patient's new liver is eventually infected by HCV because the virus remains in the patient's bloodstream during surgery. The powerful antiviral drugs now used to attack HCV prior to end-stage liver failure are not routinely used during surgery due to the patients' weakened condition and because of the strong medication used to avoid rejection of the new liver. After re-infection with HCV, nearly 40 percent of patients suffer rapid liver failure.

To close that clinical gap, the new antibody developed at MBL is designed to be a therapy shortly before and after transplant surgery. By giving a patient the new antibody before and during the time when the donor liver is implanted, researchers hope the HCV virus left in the bloodstream will be neutralized and rendered unable to infect the new liver. Then, because monoclonal antibodies are highly specific and typically have little or no side-effects, additional dosages of the new antibody could, theoretically, be
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Contact: Michael Cohen
michael.cohen@umassmed.edu
508-868-4778
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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