New vaccine is effective against all major strains of hepatitis C


February 21, 2012

Electron micrographs of hepatitis C virus purified from cell culture

Electron micrographs of hepatitis C virus purified from cell culture

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Although the existence of hepatitis C had been postulated in the 1970s, it wasn't until 1989 that a team led by Michael Houghton identified the virus. Often being asymptomatic, it is estimated between 130 - 170 million people worldwide are infected with the virus that can lead to scarring of the liver and cirrhosis. Although treatment with medication is available, it isn't effective in all cases and between 20 to 30 percent of those infected with hepatitis C develop some form of liver disease. Now Houghton and a team at the University of Alberta have developed a vaccine from a single strain that is effective against all known strains of the disease.

Due to the virulence of hepatitis C, which is greater than HIV, it was thought that developing a vaccine effective against the different strains around the world would be impossible. Continuing work started more than 10 years ago at drug company Novartis, Houghton and co-investigator in his University of Alberta lab, John Law, have found that recipients of their vaccine produce antibodies that could neutralize hepatitis C. Importantly, they discovered that that vaccine was capable of eliciting broad cross-neutralizing antibodies against all the different major strains of the disease.

"This tells us that a vaccine made from a single strain can indeed neutralize all the viruses out there," says Houghton. "It really encourages the further development of that vaccine. This is a really a big step forward for the field of HCV vaccinology."

Houghton says that further testing of the vaccine is required, so it may be five to seven years before it is approved. He also points out that it is mainly a preventative measure against acquiring the disease, although it may have some benefit to those currently infected with the disease.

Source: University of Alberta

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

It\'s amazing to hear about a vaccine for hepatitis C. Congratulations to the researchers making the world a better place.

Daryl McDougall

It took decades for the FDA to approve Varivax. I hope that it doesn\'t take that long for a hepatitis C vaccine.

Doug Marsh

This is as big as asprin, penicillin, antiseptics and lipid controlling drugs. Congrats and hope to see it globally. Let\'s not forget the smallpox vaccine too.

Dawar Saify

Such a vaccine has already been created in Cuba, in 2006. See link:



What you link to is described as a treatment, not a cure.

Racqia Dvorak

oh no, if this vaccine proves to be in any way effective against hep-c it will be fastracked. This disease is a recognized brewing epidemic.

Xando Jones

Virus' survive in the human body because man is a herbivore eating meat. The meat iron builds higher and higher in the human body and feeds virus' and the meat eater becomes a reservoir of infection. "Circulating Biomarkers of Iron Storage and Clearance of Incident Human Papillomavirus Infection." "Elevated iron stores may put women at risk for persistent HPV infection"

Tom Hennessy

whre can you get this vacine..for hep i have family that could use it now!

Sandi Meeks
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