Thursday, January 26, 2012

Looks like HCV is losing!

A receptor called NPC1L1, or Niemann-Pick C1–like 1, present in the membrane of our liver cells has been known to aid in cholesterol absorption. For a long time, a few studies had hypothesized its potential role in also facilitating the entry of the Hepatitis C virus and thus allowing infection - however, the results of these studies had not been confirmed until now.
Researchers have shown that knocking down the NPC1L1 receptor completely prevents the virus from entering and infecting the liver cells, since this receptor is 'necessary' for infection. Thus if a drug that uniquely targeted NPC1L1 (a NPC1L1 antagonist) could be manufactured, imagine the number of lives that could be saved! This would be especially useful for patients who have received a liver transplant and who are at a high risk of infection (i.e. the virus infecting their new liver). The promising news is that such a drug does exist, and it is called ezetimibe! It has been approved by the FDA, is recognized as safe, and has been used for a long time to control cholesterol levels - now we know that it will kill two birds with one stone!

Here's the Nature article!

- Julie

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