From the Journals

Struggling to reach an HCV vaccine



Currently, there is no effective hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine available despite numerous ongoing studies, according to the results of a review published in Gastroenterology.

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In their article, Justin R. Bailey, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and his colleagues reviewed the limited feasibility of applying traditional vaccine design to HCV and the problem of genetic diversity in the virus, as well as trials of vaccines designed to elicit T-cell responses.

One profound difficulty in the development and testing of an HCV vaccine is that the cohort most predictably at risk for high infection levels, people who inject drugs, are notoriously difficult to recruit, maintain consistent treatment, and follow up on – all necessary aspects of an appropriate vaccine trial.

Thus, at present, adjuvant envelope or core protein and virus-vectored nonstructural antigen vaccines have been tested only in healthy volunteers who are not at risk for HCV infection; viral vectors encoding nonstructural proteins remain the only vaccine strategy tested in truly at-risk individuals, according to Dr. Bailey and his colleagues.

“Although pharmaceutical companies invest in drug development, vaccine development requires investment from sources beyond government and charitable foundations. A prophylactic HCV vaccine is an important part of a successful strategy for global control. Although development is not easy, the quest is a worthy challenge,” Dr. Bailey and his colleagues concluded.

The authors reported having no conflicts.

SOURCE: Bailey JR et al. Gastroenterology. 2018 Sep 27. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2018.08.060.

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