A triple-punch of antibodies both prevented hepatitis C infection and
wiped out the disease after it had established itself in laboratory
mice, according to a study led by Princeton University researchers.
Instead of delivering the three antibodies directly, the researchers
administered a genetic “instruction set” that, once in a cell, developed
into antibodies that target the portions of the virus that do not
Mice treated with the antibody genetic code resisted becoming infected with hepatitis C when they were exposed to the virus, the researchers reported
in the Sept. 17 issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The researchers also gave the antibodies to mice that already were
infected and found that, in many cases, the infection disappeared to
levels below detection.
Certain antibodies can keep hepatitis C from infecting new cells, paving
the way for a treatment for stubborn infections and perhaps a vaccine
to prevent them in the first place.
Research published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine supports what scientists already suspected about the punch certain antibodies can deliver to hepatitis C.
Led by Dr. Ype P. de Jong,
a gastroenterologist, professor, and attending physician at Cornell
University, scientists showed that in cell cultures and in mice these
broadly neutralizing antibodies interrupt the cycle of hepatitis C (HCV)
“The largest takeaway is that HCV can rapidly be cured
if the infectious cycle is interrupted,” de Jong told Healthline. “This
goes against the current dogma that HCV is not [damaging] to the liver
cells and happily replicates in the liver without killing either its
host cell or being cleared by its host cell.”