The transmission of the virus that causes hepatitis C has been well-documented, but this disease still remains a large mystery. This liver disease is quite tiny, even for a virus as it is only 50 nanometers in diameter. But there’s even more to this disease and not everybody knows the kind of threat it poses.
Hepatitis C is a virus that mutates often. What this means is once the infection started, it will eventually create different variations of itself in the body. The mutation will usually be different from the parent virus and this is why the immune system finds it difficult to recognize them. However the University of Adelaide analysts have discovered something useful in the treatment.
The Role of a Genes Family
The researchers discovered that some genes might be able to stop the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection that happens in the liver. According to the findings, which can be found published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, these genes produce a protective form of immune response to the HCV. The researchers discovered the following during their tests:
- Antiviral proteins that are known as the IFITM proteins within the body can produce a natural immune response.
- The natural response from the body’s immunity can help block the entrance of the virus, so that it cannot affect the cell.
- This new discovery improves the understanding about the HCV infection as well as how it enters the body. This can be used to give new direction when it comes to creating or developing new treatments that aim to strengthen this particular natural response from the body – or at least generate mimics that will target the HCV.
It is important that HCV infection is checked and treated fast as this may lead to liver cancer and also other chronic diseases. The IFITM proteins come in three forms: IFITM1, IFITM2, and IFITM3. All of which have shown that they have antiviral action that can suppress many different viruses, including hepatitis C virus.
Does This Mean You Can Be Immune to Hepatitis C?
Currently, there are about 6 genotypes of HCV and there are also several subtypes as the genotype mutates. The hepatitis C virus has many forms and types, which is why it is difficult for researchers to create a vaccine that can prevent the virus. Even today, you cannot find vaccine for preventing HCV. Many infected people (about 25%) can clear the virus naturally and automatically during the first six months referred to as acute phase. This does not mean you are immune to the virus.
With the help of the study mentioned previously, the IFITM proteins might soon be enhanced or perhaps replicated, so that the virus can be prevented from entering our bodies.