Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Identify Breakthrough In Hepatitis C Virus Infection

06.08.2004


Researchers have made a significant advance in the understanding of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) by identifying new genetic factors associated with clearing the virus spontaneously without the necessity for additional treatment. Their findings are set out in a paper published in Science magazine today (6 August 2004).



Hepatitis C virus infects the liver and leads to serious permanent liver damage. The infection affects about 170 million people worldwide and up to 500,000 people in the UK. Most people who come into contact with HCV contract a long-term or chronic infection and, as a consequence, run a significant risk of liver failure - necessitating liver transplantation - or liver cancer.

The new multi-centre study was jointly led by researchers from the University of Southampton’s School of Medicine, the National Genetics Institute, USA, and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, USA. The findings demonstrate that natural killer (NK) cells provide a central defence against HCV infection and that this defence is mediated by specific inhibitory receptors expressed on NK cells and the partners or ligands for these receptors on liver cells.


Over 1,000 patients from the UK and the USA were involved in the study, some of whom were chronically infected and some who had cleared the virus. Researchers identified a specific combination of genes in these individuals that directly confers protection against HCV. The genes are killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) and HLA class I genes and the favourable genes identified in the study are KIR2DL3 and group 1 HLA-C alleles.

Dr Salim Khakoo of Southampton’s Infection, Inflammation and Repair Division, who co-authored the paper with Professor Mary Carrington of the National Genetics Institute in the USA, commented: ’These favourable genes control the functions of NK cells. NK cells are part of the innate immune system, a branch of immunity that has not been well-studied in HCV to date.

’KIR2DL3 on NK cells binds group 1 HLA-C alleles on liver cells and our work suggests that this interaction is more easily disturbed in HCV infection than other KIR-HLA interactions. Simply put, as an analogy to a car, it is like taking your foot off the brake of the natural killer cell rather than pressing the accelerator in order to get it going. This may then kick-start the rest of the immune response to HCV.’

By studying how people acquired HCV infection, the findings also suggest that the amount of virus they received is an important factor. Data suggests that the mechanism that researchers have discovered is more important in people receiving lower infectious amounts of HCV. The protective effect of genes on the virus was observed in Caucasians and African Americans with expected low infectious doses of HCV, but not in those with high-dose exposure, in whom the innate immune response is probably overwhelmed.

Dr Khakoo continued: ’We believe that this study is a significant advance in the understanding of hepatitis C virus infection. There are other interesting outcomes from our research. It implicates NK cells, and the innate immune system in general, in clearing HCV infection and this has not previously been clearly documented. It also suggests that the more NK cells of the protective type that an individual has the more likely they are to clear HCV.’

The researchers believe that the findings could eventually lead to new treatment strategies for HCV based around NK cells in general and KIR2DL3/HLA-C in particular.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk
http://www.sciencemag.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>