Note: A very good read and explains why it’s so difficult to develop a vaccine. – Alan
Unlike its viral cousins hepatitis A and B, hepatitis C virus (HCV) has eluded the development of a vaccine and infected more than 170 million people worldwide. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that a novel laboratory tool that lets them find virus mutations faster and more efficiently than ever before has identified a biological mechanism that appears to play a big role in helping HCV evade both the natural immune system and vaccines.
For their study, described March 8 in PLOS Pathogens, the researchers used one of the largest libraries of naturally occurring HCV to rapidly sort out which mutations allow HCV to evade immune responses and found that mutations that occur outside of the viral sites typically targeted by such antibody responses play a major role in the virus’ resistance.
“We think those mutations could account for the difficulty of making an effective vaccine,” says Justin Bailey, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.