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Scientists create humanized mouse model for hepatitis C
Date:6/8/2011

Scientists at Rockefeller University and The Scripps Research Institute have developed the first genetically humanized mouse model for hepatitis C, an achievement that will enable researchers to test molecules that block entry of the hepatitis C virus into cells as well as potential vaccine candidates. The finding is reported in the June 9 issue of the journal Nature.

While the hepatitis C virus can infect chimpanzees and humans, scientists have been unable to study the progression of the virus' life cycle or possible treatments in small animal models. The new mouse model is the first to be developed with a fully functioning immune system.

"Our genetically humanized mouse model for hepatitis C will allow us to gain deeper insights in the biology of this important pathogen," says senior author Alexander Ploss, a research assistant professor at Rockefeller. "This robust small animal model also has the potential to serve a critical role in testing and prioritizing drug and vaccine candidates. Results from these tests can potentially guide more expensive pre-clinical and clinical studies in higher order organisms, including humans."

The development of this mouse model is the culmination of several years of research by scientists in the laboratory of Charles M. Rice and other research groups. In 2006, Rice and his colleagues were the first to successfully create a strain of hepatitis C in the laboratory, which can efficiently be grown in the laboratory, and is also infectious in animals. More recently, Rice, Ploss and their colleagues discovered that hepatitis C virus infection requires previously identified CD81 and scavenger receptor type B class I, as well as two tight junction molecules, claudin 1 and occludin. The Rockefeller researchers showed that human CD81 and occludin were required for hepatitis C virus to enter mouse cells.

In the new study, the Rockefeller researchers and colleagues at The Scripps Research Ins
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Contact: Joseph Bonner
bonnerj@rockefeller.edu
212-327-8998
Rockefeller University
Source:Eurekalert

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