A substance has been developed that suppresses the hepatitis C virus

Scientists from the Danish company Santaris Pharma A/S have developed a substance that effectively suppresses the hepatitis C virus. Scientists have invented a drug that does not attack the hepatitis C virus itself, but molecules in the liver that support the reproduction of the infection. This drug was talked about last year. Today, clinical trials of the drug are being carried out on people suffering from chronic hepatitis C.

Viruses tend to be highly selective in terms of host cells. The hepatitis C virus is no exception – it can only multiply in the cells of the liver tissue, writes cybersecurity.ru. “The hepatitis C virus needs one very specific molecule, which is synthesized only by liver cells, to reproduce,” says Henrik Erum, chief scientist at Santaris. – This molecule is microRNA-122. Without it, the hepatitis C virus cannot reproduce, which is why it only infects liver cells, since only they produce this molecule.”

The details of the mechanism by which microRNA-122 promotes the replication of the virus (or possibly protects it from the human immune system) are not yet clear. However, it is already known that this micromolecule is directly integrated into the hereditary material of the virus, which also consists of RNA. “There are two regions in the viral RNA molecule, to which microRNA-122 always “approaches,” explains Henrik Erum. “Without this connection, the virus cannot trigger the synthesis of vital proteins.” These proteins are necessary for him as a building material for shells, their absence deprives the virus of the ability to reproduce. In a healthy liver, microRNA-122 plays an important role in ensuring that proteins are synthesized in the cell in the proper amount.

“MiRNA-122 is involved in the regulation of the activity of so many genes,” says Henrik Erum. – First of all, we are talking about genes associated with the metabolism of fats, with the maintenance of an optimal level of cholesterol in the blood. If, for example, microRNA-122 is blocked in a healthy liver, cholesterol levels decrease.” If the liver is affected by the hepatitis C virus, then it’s not up to maintaining the optimal cholesterol level, it is much more important to interrupt the reproduction of the pathogen. This consideration prompted Danish researchers to develop a substance that blocks microRNA-122.

So far, this substance has not received a trade name and appears under the working designation SPC3649. It is a short fragment of artificial DNA and acts as a kind of “stub”: it binds to microRNA-122 and thereby prevents its integration into the virus genome. The substance was developed in experiments on mice, but rodents are not known to get hepatitis C, so the drug has now been tested on four chimpanzees infected with the virus and suffering from chronic hepatitis C. Three months of injections led to the fact that the level of the virus in the animals’ bodies decreased 1000 times. And even two months after the tests, the virus was barely detected in the blood of animals. “And we did not notice any serious adverse reactions. And most importantly, during the entire period of therapy, no resistant viruses arose. This is really a sensation,” says Henrik Erum. Clinical trials of a new drug have now begun on people suffering from chronic hepatitis C https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_C.