Scientists See Success in First Human Trial of Hepatitis C Vaccine

A phase I clinical trial for a new hepatitis C vaccine that has shown to be safe in humans shows promise in ongoing public health efforts to control the disease, especially for people who can’t afford treatment.

The first clinical trial of a hepatitis C vaccine in humans has demonstrated safety and unprecedented immune responses, according to research published this week in Science Translational Medicine.

B-cells produce antibodies that go after specific invaders. With the hepatitis C virus constantly changing (much like HIV) and having multiple genotypes, it is challenging for scientists to get B-cells to work effectively in a hepatitis C vaccine.

Using “helper” T-cells instead of B-cells that target specific intruders, the new vaccine provokes the immune system to go after the virus with its own defenses. About 15 to 25 percent of people who become infected with hepatitis C clear the virus spontaneously, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Researchers have known that a powerful T-cell response plays a role in the body’s ability to do so.


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