'Cold' virus fuels hope of beating Hep C bug
A cousin of the common cold virus offers the first hope of an effective vaccine against the chronic liver infection hepatitis C, it was revealed today.
Early trial results mirror responses seen in the minority of people with natural immunity to the disease, which can lead to severe liver damage and early death.
Scientists are encouraged by the findings but caution that it may take several more years to develop a fully approved vaccine.
Professor Paul Klenerman, of Oxford University, said: "We've found that it's possible to prime large cellular immune responses against hepatitis C that last for at least a year.
"The immune responses we've seen are exciting and we are beginning the next stage of trials. Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that can remain hidden in the bloodstream for decades before showing any symptoms."
Its effect is insidious, producing flu-like effects while inflicting slow damage to the liver which can lead to cirrhosis and cancer.