Hepatitis C is an infectious disease primarily of the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The disease affects around 200 million people worldwide.
The Hepatitis C infection is often asymptomatic, but can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure, liver cancer.
Currently undergoing formal preclinical studies, the vaccine is the result of a breakthrough work done by Heidi Drummer, associate professor from Burnet Institute, Australia, with her team from its virology centre.
Drummer and her team have overcome a major hurdle in HCV vaccine research, developing a vaccine candidate that protects against a number of different HCV strains, according to a Burnet statement.
“Hepatitis C has a great ability to change its structure and evade the immune response. This makes vaccine development challenging. Our vaccine is unique as it contains only the most essential, conserved parts of the major viral surface protein, eliciting antibodies that prevent both closely and distantly related hepatitis C viruses from entering cells, thereby preventing infection,” Drummer said.
Drummer presented these findings at the prestigious Immunotherapeutics and Vaccine Summit (ImVacS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, on Aug 13, 2012.