Edmonton Journal (02.16.12) - Thursday, February 16, 2012
A Canadian research team says it is closer to developing a
vaccine that could be effective against all major strains of
hepatitis C virus. The progress toward a broadly effective HCV
vaccine was unexpected, said Michael Houghton, a researcher at
the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of
Vaccines are made with certain antibody strains, and they tend
to work only against those strains. There are six major
strains of HCV and hundreds more subtypes. New data show the
vaccine candidate, which is made from one HCV strain, produces
antibodies that can neutralize all HCV types, Houghton said.
He presented his findings Wednesday during the Canada
Excellence Research Chairs Summit in Vancouver.
"I think that's great news for our efforts to develop a
vaccine for hepatitis C," Houghton said. "I've been working on
the vaccine for 15 years; for so many years the field felt
that antibodies would be very restricted in their neutralizing
ability, that you could only neutralize the same strain that
the vaccine was derived from."
Preliminary tests suggest the success rates for blocking
different HCV strains ranged from 40 percent to 100 percent,
said John Law, Houghton's research partner.
If the vaccine is proven safe and effective in large-scale
human trials, it could take five to seven years to reach the
market. The vaccine may also help those already infected with
HCV, Houghton said. Research is needed to determine the
vaccine's potential to boost the effectiveness of the new,
more effective HCV antiviral therapies, he added.