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HCV Vaccine Development

As a blood-borne virus, hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 200 million people worldwide and represents a global health problem. Unfortunately, there is currently no vaccine to prevent HCV infection. HCV patients are treated with antiviral therapy, which is costly. Therefore, it is urgent to develop an effective HCV vaccine.

Overview of HCV

Overview of HCV

HCV is an enveloped single-stranded positive RNA virus and is the main representative of the Flaviviridae family. The genome of HCV is 9.6 kb in size and consists of a long open reading frame encoding three structural and seven nonstructural proteins. Structural proteins E1 and E2 are responsible for binding the virus to receptors on the host cell surface.

HCV Life Cycle

The HCV life cycle is mainly divided into seven steps (virus attachment→virus attachment→entry→uncoating→translation→RNA genome replication→assembly and maturation→virion release). Nonstructural proteins play important roles in RNA replication, viral assembly, and release. Entry of HCV is a complex process involving the sequential interaction of viral particles with several host cell receptors.

The HCV replication cycle.The HCV replication cycle. (Dustin LB, et al., 2016)

Treatment of HCV

Most patients infected with HCV develop chronic disease within 20 years, with a 15-30% risk of cirrhosis. The World Health Organization reports that approximately 130-150 million people worldwide suffer from chronic HCV infection, and more than 500,000 people die each year from HCV-related liver disease. Currently, the only available treatments for HCV infection are antiviral drugs, especially the combination of ribavirin and interferon, but they are only effective in less than 50% of HCV patients and are expensive and only available in some developed countries.

HCV Vaccine

Anti-HCV vaccines are the only viable option to prevent the occurrence of HCV infection, and there is an urgent need to produce safe and effective HCV vaccines. Despite the enormous efforts of researchers to develop HCV vaccines, so far, there is no licensed HCV vaccine to prevent HCV infection. A major challenge in producing an efficient HCV vaccine is the immense HCV genetic diversity, which has 7 known genotypes and more than 80 subtypes. Furthermore, another major challenge is the ability of HCV to evade the host's adaptative immune response using different strategies.

HCV VLP Vaccine

HCV virus-like particles (VLPs) have not only the non-structural proteins of HCV, but also the structure of HCV, which can provide key conformational epitopes. The development of cross-NAbs for HCV surface epitopes generated during natural infection is more beneficial for the development of HCV VLP vaccines. Therefore, VLP-based HCV vaccines can meet the requirements of an effective HCV vaccine, are immunogenic, and can elicit robust CD4+, CD8+, and cross-reactive NAb responses.

How We Can Help

As an expert in building VLPs from VLPlantTM platform, CD BioSciences uses its expertise to help our clients develop HCV vaccines. We are good at customizing our services according to the needs of our clients. Please contact us if you are interested.

Our capabilities include but are not limited to:

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  1. Dustin LB.; et al. Hepatitis C virus: life cycle in cells, infection and host response, and analysis of molecular markers influencing the outcome of infection and response to therapy. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2016, 22:826-832.
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