Viral Hepatitis

HCV Research UK is funded to create a national cohort of patients with hepatitis C virus infection, with an integrated clinical database and a biorepository. The BRU co-orindates the HCV Research UK clinical database. This is a resource available to all researchers interested in HCV infection – the data we collect are currently being used by a number of academics and pharma companies for investigations into the epidemiology, natural history, and treatment of chronic HCV infection. This cohort supports our basic and translational research programmes in immunity to HCV infection. We are currently investigating the contribution of innate and adaptive immunity limiting replication of HCV, and how viral adaptations to host immunity facilitate persistent infection. We have found that host innate pattern recognition receptors contribute to limiting infection of the liver. We are currently co-ordinating a collaborative phase I/II clinical trial of therapeutic neutralizing antibodies to prevent infection of niave organs during liver transplantation. We are also applying our knowledge of the molecular targets of antibody responses to HCV to vaccine development. As part of this focussed vaccine effort, we are using a B cell short-term culture technique to identify novel neutralising antibodies and then characterising their epitopes in order to aid rationale vaccine design.