Monday, February 27, 2012

Discovery of Hepatitis C vaccine

The University of Alberta has its very own Li Ka Shing center (like us!) where a potential Hepatitis C vaccine, developed from a single strain of the virus over a period of 10 years, by researcher and chairman Michael Houghton, has shown to be effective against all known strains of the virus. The main challenge in the development of the vaccine had to do with a particular feature of HCV, whose very high level of virulence made it very difficult to come up with a vaccine that could neutralize all the different strains effectively. The vaccine that has been developed by Houghton and his coworkers is capable of generating broad cross-neutralising antibodies against all the different major strains, which is very good news for all the areas where HCV is prevalent.
Nevertheless, there remain a few critical but unanswered questions regarding this vaccine: Did the recipients actually produce antibodies that could neutralize the actual infectious virus? If they could, how broad was the neutralizing response?
Further experiments performed with this newly developed vaccines are needed to not only answer these questions but also ensure of its efficacy against multiple HCV strains.
At the same time, at Oxford University, significant progress has been observed in the development of a vaccine that would have effective targeting ability - by targeting the "inner engine" of the HCV virus instead of the surface markers/proteins.

Looks like we're on the right track!

- Julie

No comments: