The study, which was published February 14 in the journal Hepatology, found for the first time that it may be possible to overcome the virus’ ability to block the immune system response by inducing the production of noneffective antibodies.
“What we’ve done is to redirect the immune response to the parts of the virus that you want the immune system to see, and those are the parts that generate broadly cross-reactive antibodies effective against all seven circulating genotypes of virus,” said Heidi Drummer, lead author of the study.
The genetic sequence of the hepatitis C virus is highly variable, which makes detection and treatment difficult to standardize.
Direct acting antiviral agents such as Harvoni (ledipasvir and sofosbuvir), Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and Viekira Pak (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir with dasabuvir) have shown to be effective at treating HCV patients, but they are extremely expensive and cannot prevent reinfection with the virus.
The study demonstrated that reengineering the HCV structure may allow its detection by the immune system in a way that produces antibodies that can recognize all the known subgroups of the virus, blocking it from entering and infecting the cells.
“That gives us a lead that we can work with to produce a vaccine candidate that’s going to be amenable for a clinical trial,” Drummer said.
The vaccine would ideally be introduced into existing hepatitis regimes, or administered in combination with the human papilloma virus (HPV) in adolescents.
Source: Hepatitis News Today