UCLA researchers have identified two cellular proteins that are important factors in hepatitis C virus infection, a finding that may result in the approval of new and less toxic treatments for the disease, which can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.
An estimated 270 to 300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, and the conventional treatments — interferon and ribavirin — can have significant side effects. A new drug targeting cellular proteins rather than viral proteins would be a valuable addition to the treatment arsenal, according to Dr. Samuel French, a UCLA assistant professor of pathology and senior author of the study.
French and his team set out to identify the cellular factors involved in hepatitis C replication. Using mass spectrometry, they found that heat-shock proteins (HSPs) 40 and 70 were important for viral infection. HSP 70 was previously known to be involved, but HSP 40 was linked for the first time to hepatitis C infection, French said.