Chronic hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus and is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Today, this serious infection affects more than 70 million people worldwide and already causes 400,000 deaths annually.

However, there is still no effective vaccine against the Hepatitis C virus. For this reason, an international project led by the CSIC (the Higher Council for Scientific Research), Spain,  is very important, because it is a promising step to be able to create the first prophylactic or therapeutic effective vaccine to end this global health problem.

An international team led by the CSIC has developed new vaccines against this virus, which according to the study published in the scientific journal Journal of Virology, are suitable to prevent this infection and its spread among the population.

Functioning

The vaccines are called DREP-HCV and have been developed in collaboration with a research group of the Karolinska Institute (Sweden). “They are vaccines based on a replicative DNA that expresses the most immunogenic proteins of the hepatitis C virus, being the first vaccines against this virus that use this approach,” explained Juan García-Arriaza, researcher at the National Biotechnology Center and co-director of the work.

The new vaccines, by self-replicating in cells, activate a series of immunological properties that make them “very promising” vaccine candidates, according to María Quirós, also a CSIC researcher and first author of this project.

Tested in mice

In fact, these vaccines (combined with another one already in existence) have already been administered to mice and very powerful, broad, high quality and durable immunological responses have been obtained against hepatitis C virus.

At present, there are already other “vaccine” candidates, but until now none of them has been approved for use in humans.

The promising results of the CSIC work offer a new and more promising way to fight against this disease, because it combines the use of several types of vaccines.

Antivirals

And while the first vaccine for humans arrives, we must continue to rely on the efficacy of antiviral drugs, which have already shown that they can cure more than 95% of patients.

However, this therapy has a very high price and, for that reason, millions of affected people do not have access to it. Thus, obtaining the first vaccine is one of the most important ways to eradicate this serious disease.

 

Source: Agencia ID