Novel Vaccine Strategy Induces Potent anti-HCV Immune Response

Hepatitis C, a disease characterized by damaging liver inflammation due to chronic infection with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), affects more than 71 million people worldwide and represents a major burden on global health. While antiviral agents are capable of curing HCV infection in most patients, the high cost of medications and the risk of generating drug-resistant mutants warrants the production of an effective vaccine against the virus that would function by inducing an anti-HCV immune response.

Researchers from Madrid, Spain and Stockholm, Sweden recently demonstrated that an HCV vaccine harnessing a new delivery approach is capable of inducing a potent antiviral immune response in mice. The vaccine strategy involved initial immunization with a viral vector optimized to trigger and amplify HCV-specific responses by a branch of white blood cells known as T cells, followed by booster immunizations with a different viral vector intended to strengthen and extend the antiviral immune response.

The vaccine also promoted the production of antibody against the virus. T cell- and antibody-mediated antiviral immunity were found to be significantly stronger than that generated by existing vaccine candidates. The development of an effective and affordable HCV vaccine will enable the prevention and resolution of infection by this destructive virus worldwide.

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Marin MQ, Perez P, Ljungberg K, et al. (2019) Potent Anti-hepatitis C Virus (HCV) T Cell Immune Responses Induced in Mice Vaccinated with DNA-Launched RNA Replicons and Modified Vaccinia Virus Ankara-HCV. Journal of Virology. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00055-19