They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C — a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated — it might be worth even more.
The reason is that the disease shows no outward signs, and more than 80 percent of sufferers go undiagnosed. So while an effective cure does exist, what’s most needed is a vaccine that can prevent infection in the first place.
Charlie Rice, the Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor in Virology at The Rockefeller University, has been working for decades to develop just that; in fact, his previous research lead to the development of the cure for hepatitis C infection that first became available in 2015. But his research, and the field in general, have been stymied by a lack of animal models that can be used to study the interaction between the disease and the immune system.