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Breakthrough opens new avenues for hep C vaccine
Date:9/13/2011

kness, and surprise finding, was the significant drop in the diversity of the viral variants in each individual studied, occurring about three months after transmission, around the time where the immune system is starting to combat the virus. A lower number of variants means the virus is easier to target."

Study leader Professor Lloyd said the discoveries were significant because of their potential to overcome longstanding barriers to hepatitis C vaccine development.

"To date hepatitis C has been difficult to target with single interventions because there are many different strains of the virus," he said. "In addition, like HIV, the hepatitis C virus mutates very rapidly and exists as a complex family of mutated viruses within every infected individual, meaning the virus can avoid efforts by the immune system to keep it under control," Professor Lloyd said.

"What's more, a third of infected people can have an effective immune response that eliminates the virus early on. This means key initial immune responses were difficult to identify and study because early infection and elimination can go unrecognised."

Professor Lloyd said work is now underway to identify the key immunological features of the founder viruses in order to guide new vaccines.

"Further research will test the extent of the immune response against these founder viruses in a cohort of very early infected individuals," he said.


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Contact: Professor Andrew Lloyd
a.lloyd@UNSW.EDU.AU
61-413-112-701
University of New South Wales
Source:Eurekalert

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