Researchers Discover New Host Genes that Foster Replication of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)
What: Researchers have found more than 100 host genes that enable the hepatitis C virus (HCV) to replicate in the body. This discovery, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), advances the understanding of the HCV lifecycle and identifies possible new targets for prevention and treatment. The results of their work will be published early online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences August 31, 2009. The embargo lifts at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common cause of chronic liver disease and the need for liver transplantation in the United States each year. Current HCV treatments have many limitations and are associated with some difficult side effects.
The researchers examined all genetic pathways that are important for the virus to infect, replicate, and propagate in liver cells. Using the HCV cell culture system with small interfering RNA (siRNA) screens targeting the complete human genome, they identified more than 100 genes not previously implicated in HCV infection. Following the initial studies, researchers performed meta-analyses of four large datasets to provide statistical power and confirm the association of these genes to HCV replication.
Genetic variations in host factors may account for the unpredictable course of chronic HCV infection, the range of patient responses to therapy, and the estimated 20 percent of individuals who are exposed to HCV but clear the infection, researchers conclude. Additionally, genetic host factors may offer potentially valuable targets for treatment.
ARTICLE: Qisheng Li , Abraham L. Brass, Aylwin Ng, Zongyi Hu, Ramnik J. Xavier, T. Jake Liang, Stephen J. Elledge (2009) A genome-wide genetic screen for host factors required for hepatitis C virus propagation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Who: Lead author Jake Liang, M.D., chief, Liver Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, is available to discuss embargoed findings and studies.
When: Monday, August 31, 2009, after 12:00 p.m. Eastern time
Contact: To schedule interviews with Dr. Liang, call Leslie Curtis, NIDDK Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 301-496-3583, LeslieCurtis@mail.nih.gov
More: Information about NIH’s hepatitis C and other liver diseases research is available at: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/AboutNIDDK/ResearchAndPlanning/Liver_Disease/Action_Plan_For_Liver_Disease_Intro.htm
The NIDDK, part of NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute's research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit www.niddk.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
Leslie Curtis, NIDDK
Page last updated: August 31, 2009