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Researchers develop possible hepatitis C vaccine
Category: Infectious Diseases
A new vaccine being developed by a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark may reduce the number of positive hepatitis C tests in the future. They are reporting one of the first successful trials in inoculating animals against the disease.
Scientists have been working for years to eradicate the disease by engineering a vaccine. However, the virus mutates rapidly, making it difficult to pin down. As soon as a vaccine can be developed, the microorganism has changed, making it immune to drugs.
Furthermore, the body's immune system usually does a poor job of recognizing the virus and attacking it. To solve this problem, the researchers took a dead cold virus molecule and encoded bits of DNA from a hepatitis C molecule.
When this combination was injected into mice, the immune system immediately recognized the cold virus and built up antibodies to it. Since these molecules also had bits of hepatitis DNA, the mouse immune systems also developed defenses against the disease.
Given the high prevalence of the disease and the fact that it is so difficult to fight once it has reached a chronic stage, the researchers said that their vaccine has the possibility to save millions of lives.
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