WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Study finds DNA coding can affect ability to fight Hepatitis C

A recently study, led by Dr. Ram Savan of the University of Washington, revealed a person's DNA coding of chromosome 19 can have an effect on that person's ability to fight off Hepatitis C infection.

Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver damage, including liver disease and liver cancer. HCV infects more than 150 million people globally and despite available treatments, there is no effective treatment for 30 percent of those infected.

Savan and his team discovered that patients of Asian descent responded better to HCV treatment than patients of African descent and began researching full human genomes to discover which gene clusters responded to HCV therapy.

During their studies, the team discovered four different single-letter DNA coding changes on chromosome 19 that were responsible for the body's response to HCV treatment and the body's natural ability to fight off HCV.

The discovery helped the research team understand more about how the HCV virus continues to thrive in some patients, despite therapy treatment. HCV can coerce liver cells to target IFNL3 genes by using microRNAs. This discovery may lead to the development of more effective vaccines against HCV.

"This is a previously unknown strategy by which HCV evades the immune system and suggests that these microRNAs could be therapeutic targets for restoring the host antiviral response," the researchers said.

The details of the study were published in a recent issue of Nature Immunology.