(RxWiki News) Researchers have identified a molecular interaction between a structural hepatitis C virus protein (HCV) and a protein critical to viral replication.
The finding suggests a novel method of inhibiting virus production while it possibly provides a new target for hepatitis C drugs.
The viral protein known as "core" acts as a primary organizer of the hepatitis C-infection particle assembly, giving scientists a new understanding of the molecular formation of the actual viral particle. The finding could lead to preventing production of the infectious particle since the small molecule inhibitors of core's dimerization (the joining of two identical subunits) obstructs interaction between core and helicase, a class of enzymes vital to all living organisms.
Between 130 and 170 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis C virus, symptoms of which are generally mild and flu-like and include nausea, joint pain, tenderness in the liver area and fatigue, among others. About 20% of people who have hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis, a hardening of the liver, and 20% of those who develop cirrhosis will develop liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)