Some people are genetically equipped to resist HCV’s efforts to turn off a type interferon
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) has a previously unrecognized tactic to outwit antiviral responses and sustain a long-term infection. It also turns out that some people are genetically equipped with a strong countermeasure to the virus’ attempt to weaken the attack on it.
The details of these findings suggest potential targets for treating HCV, according to a research team led by Dr. Ram Savan, assistant professor of immunology at the University of Washington. The study was published in Nature Immunology.
HCV infects more than 150 million of the world’s people. The virus is notorious for evading the body’s immune system and establishing an infection that can continue for decades, despite treatment. A lasting infection can damage the liver, and in some cases produce liver cancer. HCV infection is a major cause of liver failure requiring an organ transplant.
The virus, hiding in other tissues, can return in the transplanted liver. HCV and the human immune system are engaged in a seemingly never-ending duel, each trying to overcome the others latest move. Several HCV mechanisms for defying the body’s immune system have already been uncovered.
Present treatments are about 70 percent effective in curing the infection, Savan said. The triple combination treatments consist of interferon, ribavirin and direct-acting antiviral agents.