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The Scientific Challenge of Hepatitis C

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Science  02 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5424, pp. 26-30
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5424.26

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The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects some 170 million people worldwide--more than four times as many as HIV--and is causing rising rates of liver disease. Like HIV, it is a wily foe for researchers developing drugs and vaccines, because HCV also mutates rapidly, creating a swarm of different viruses in each infected person that can thwart antibodies easily. But progress is beginning to be made: Although to date no one has been able to grow HCV reliably in a laboratory culture of cells, on page 110, researchers describe a new system for culturing HCV's RNA. And a study on page 107 offers one possible explanation for why some HCV strains are more resistant to interferon, the standard treatment for HCV, than others.