Hepatitis C treatment: Genes found that calibrate how our immune system affects virus

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A big data study of hepatitis C and more than 500 patients with the virus has opened the way for a better understanding of how the virus interacts with its human hosts.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have for the first time developed a method for analyzing and comparing the genetic makeup of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), as well as that of more than 500 patients with the virus.

Viral hepatitis is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide, with 2-3% of the world’s population thought to be infected with HCV, which left untreated can led to liver disease and cancer.

Professor Ellie Barnes from the Nuffield Department of Medicine, who led the study with Dr Chris Spencer, said: “We identified two places in the human genome where the genetic variation that calibrates our immune system affects the genetic diversity of the virus…Within 15 years, DNA sequencing of disease-causing bugs like HCV will become a routine part of healthcare.”

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