NWU research on Hepatitis C virus is a major break through

Koos Degenaar -- Tue, 05/12/2015 - 14:17

NWU research on Hepatitis C virus is a major break through

Dr Constance Wose’s research on the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 5a is a major break-through in HCV and is critical for the development of treatment for HCV.

The research done by Dr Wose, a PhD student in Biological Science at the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU), has established - for the first time in South Africa and in the world - a replicon system for HCV genotype 5a, which is a major break-through in HCV history and is critical for the development of HCV-targeted therapy.   This work was done in collaboration with Prof Charles Rice and Dr Mohsan Saeed of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Diseases at the Center for the Study of Hepatitis Viruses at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Dr Wose's research is aimed at establishing functional in vitro replication systems for Hepatitis C virus genotype 5a as a preclinical tool for better screening and optimisation of new and current viral inhibitors. Since the discovery of HCV in 1989, no such system had been developed for genotype 5a. Hepatitis C virus infects over 170 million people worldwide and in South Africa, infection accounts for 2.6% of chronic liver disease and is a major cause for liver transplants. With the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, chronic liver disease due to HCV infection remains a major health problem and cause of death.

Dr Wose published part of her thesis titled “Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy” in a peer-reviewed American Society of Virology Journal. The thesis was also presented at the 21st International Symposium of Hepatitis C and Related Viruses, Banff, Alberta, Canada in September 2014.