New Compounds Show Promise Against Hepatitis C Infection

Approximately 270 million to 300 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, and about 1 percent to 2 percent of the U.S. population is infected. This infectious disease can lead to scarring of the liver, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure. A significant number of infected patients develop liver disease or cancer. The current standard treatment is interferon, which has only a 50 percent success rate. Compounding the 50 percent failure rate are severe side effects which lead many people to discontinue treatment.

Samuel Wheeler French Jr., MD, PhD, sssistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UCLA and researcher at UCLAs Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, is a liver pathologist who is currently developing a proteomic-based program to study the development of liver cancer from hepatitis C viral infection. His most recent study results, presented in an American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) symposium on "Pathobiology of Liver Injury and Fibrosis" on at Experimental Biology 2011, evaluate the effects of several flavonoids on hepatitis C viral infection. Previously, French has shown that quercetin, a plant-derived bioflavonoid used by some as a nutritional supplement, attenuates hepatitis C virus production with no cell toxicity. In his most recent research, French and colleagues found that two other bioflavonoids, catechin and naringenin, displayed antiviral activity on tissue culture. The next step is to determine through a Phase I Clinical Trial that they are safe for patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

"We now have several new compounds we can test to see if they reduce virus infection," says French. "The positive thing about this family of compounds is that they are nontoxic, and can be taken at high doses. Bioflavonoids represent a very promising therapy with very few side effects that could help millions of people."

Experimental Biology is an annual gathering of six scientific societies that this year is expected to draw 13,000-plus independent scientists and exhibitors. The societies represented are: American Association of Anatomists (AAA), American Physiological Society (APS), American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP), American Society for Nutrition (ASN) and the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET).

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