Molecular Research of Hepatitis C Virus Infection
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 May 2024 | Viewed by 525
Almost 10 years have passed since the introduction of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV). Nonetheless, HCV infection still continues to be one of the most important public health burdens worldwide, with more than 58 million persons living with the virus in 2019, accounting for approximately 399,000 deaths in the same year due to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), according to the WHO. HCV is a member of the Flaviviridae family, containing as a genome a positive stranded RNA of ~ 9.6 kB encoding a large polyprotein of about 3000 amino acids, which is processed by viral and cellular proteases into three structural (E1, E2, core) and seven non-structural proteins (p7, NS2, NS3, N4A, NS4B, NS5A, NS5B). Thanks to molecular research on HCV, including the cloning of the genome, the establishment of a “subgenomic replicon” system, and, later on, of a cell culture replicative virus (HCVcc), the roles of the viral proteins have been deciphered as well as the main steps of the viral replication cycle. This has paved the way for the discovery of a curative therapy based on DAAs such as sofosbuvir (acting on the viral polymerase NS5B) and daclatasvir (acting on NS5A), which can clear HCV in more than 95% of patients. However, the fight against HCV is not over due to insufficient treatment coverage (20% of carriers are diagnosed and 13% are treated, according to the WHO), especially in middle- and low-income countries, and the lack of a vaccine. Moreover, resistant variants may appear that can compromise the use of current drugs, and some people who have cleared the virus after a prolonged HCV infection may also still develop liver cancer.
The scope of this Special Issue entitled “Molecular Research of Hepatitis C Virus Infection” is to try to answer the questions that still remain open, such as the following: What are the precise molecular mechanisms of virus-induced HCC? What are the molecular determinants of HCC after an HCV cure? Where do we stand with the development of an HCV vaccine or with the discovery of cellular targets for novel antiviral approaches?
Dr. Boyan Grigorov
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- virus replication and pathogenesis
- virus–cell interaction
- vaccine development
- hepatocellular carcinoma