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Medicine Biotech Science

Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus 104

Diggester writes "While Americans worry every year about getting a flu shot or preventing HIV/AIDS, the deadlier silent killer is actually Hepatitis C, killing over 15,000 people yearly in the U.S. since 2007 — and the numbers continue to increase as the carriers increase in age. While there is no vaccine, there is hope in nanoparticle technology. The breakthrough came from a group of researchers at the University of Florida, creating a 'nanozyme' that eliminates the Hep C 100% of the time; before now, the six-month treatment would only work about half the time. The particles are coated with two biological agents, the identifier and the destroyer; the identifier recognizes the virus and sends the destroyer off to eliminate the mRNA which allows Hep C to replicate." Reader Joiseybill adds a link to coverage in the IEEE Spectrum, and points out that the 100 percent success rate, while encouraging, is so far only in the lab.
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Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus

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  • Deadlier? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:39AM (#40735015)

    "While Americans worry every year about getting a flu shot or preventing HIV/AIDS, the deadlier silent killer is actually Hepatitis C, killing over 15,000 ..."

    The flu kills each year an average number of 25000-36000 people in the US, depending on the statistics. []

    • Re:Deadlier? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ketamine-bp ( 586203 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:46AM (#40735049)
      the deal with these is that flu, pneumonia and perhaps urinary tract infection is almost always the presentation of the patient in the death episode. it's not fair comparing it to flu. Among those who died of flu, it is rather rare to find a person who enjoyed relatively good past health and is young.

      Hepatitis C (and hepatitis B), on the other hand, leads to cirrhosis, hepatocellular cellular carcinoma and liver failure. It is exactly one of those diseases which will cause deterioration of the patient's health to such extent that a flu could kill.

      It is rather unfair to compare Hep C to Flu in terms of mortality.
      • Re:Deadlier? (Score:5, Informative)

        by durrr ( 1316311 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:53AM (#40735371)

        Hepatitis viral infections are also not self-limiting, hep C is pretty ugly too in that it limits transplant options(read; hep c = no transplants for you) which can be a pretty shitty situation for kidney transplant candidates that can get infected by dialysis catethers and whatnot and be excluded from the queue.

        Hep B is pretty nasty too, hard to treat, survives well in the outside environment and about as virulent as a cat video on youtube.

        • hepatitis B is now quite treatable. resistance since the introduction of entacavir and adefovir is very low. cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is now considered preventable with these therapy. the problem is the access to medication in the far east.

          the virulence of hepatitis B is quite low in terms of environmental source. it is primarily transmitted by body fluid transmission.
      • by etinin ( 1144011 )
        There's always morbidity.
    • No no, people are afraid the flu shots will kill them.
      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
        I know someone who stopped getting flu shots after three years in a row they got sick for two weeks with full-blow flu symptoms. I'm sure they're a corner case.
    • Re:Deadlier? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:45AM (#40735327) Journal

      "While Americans worry every year about getting a flu shot or preventing HIV/AIDS, the deadlier silent killer is actually Hepatitis C, killing over 15,000 ..."

      The flu kills each year an average number of 25000-36000 people in the US, depending on the statistics. []

      the flu kills more then terrorist, yet we spend more money defending against terrorist.


      • Things like the Flu, and even the common cold, rarely kill directly. It normally exaccerbates existing conditions by weakening the body and allowing said existing conditions to worsen.

        My uncle died of liver failure, but he contracted MRSA while in hospital, and while it was the liver that gave in, the MRSA caused him to deteriorate rapidly.

        Flu (be it seasonal or one of these 'super flus'), MRSA and colds rarely kill on their own.

        If all you have is Hep C, yeah, you're in trouble.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by camperdave ( 969942 )
        It's the military industrial complex. Terrorism gives them an excuse to exist and siphon off tax dollars. Force all arms manufacturers to be not-for-profit companies, and your terrorism threat will vanish like a juice stain in an informercial.
      • More interestingly, if the terrorists attacked solely critical care centres and retirement homes the outcry would most likely be greater. But flu works exactly the opposite (it gets less attention because it mostly kills those groups).

        I'm not going either direction here, I don't care enough about other people to give a damn which is the "correct" attitude. I just find it quite interesting.

      • There is only doom the way you are going. Stop hinking now, and we may keep our cars. You know, everybody loves cars (to the point of insisting to spend endless hours inside them every day), and if you go that way, well, you'll discover that we should stop spending money on the death machines^W^W i mean... cars.

        Also, everybody knows that cars are the single product that moves the economy nowadays. If we stopped manufacturing them, unenployment would rise to unprecedented levels (by the way, did you already

    • And how many people get the flu vs Hep C? More people die of heart disease than gunshots each year too but I wouldn't call a cheesburger more deadly than a bullet!
  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:39AM (#40735017)

    the 100 percent success rate, while encouraging, is so far only in the lab

    So take everyone to the lab for treatment. Duh.

    • Re:Easy (Score:4, Funny)

      by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @10:06AM (#40736001) Journal

      Only if you're at risk. As this is a sexually transmitted disease and this is Slashdot...

      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        If hepatitis C is a sexually transmitted disease, then I should have contracted it -- a woman I was dating about 5 years ago had it. Unlike the other two forms of hepatitis, C is very hard to catch. Usually it comes from dirty needles, a woman can get it from anal sex (yuck).

    • by Narnie ( 1349029 )

      Pamela Anderson is back on the bang list!

    • One of my favourite bits from QI:

      Alan Davies: Eight hundred Americans die in a McDonald's every year.
      Rich Hall: Which one? Best to avoid that one.

  • mice or men (Score:5, Funny)

    by mynamestolen ( 2566945 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:40AM (#40735019)
    would have been nice for mice to be mentioned in the summary since it appears only to apply to them. lucky dogs
    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      would have been nice for mice to be mentioned in the summary since it appears only to apply to them. lucky dogs

      Lucky dogs??!?! How would you like your assigned tasks from your boss to consist of:
      1. Get infected with contagious disease
      2. Try out some cures to see if they work
      3. ????
      4. Profit! (well - for your boss that is)

  • by ketamine-bp ( 586203 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2012 @07:42AM (#40735035)
    Well, there are more than a hundred discoveries like these that demonstrated effectiveness of curing the uncurables in the past decade. Of those which went through the testing in man, well, maybe 2 or 3...

    Back then, avastin, glivec and so on were expected to be magical cures for cancers.. now they exist only as expensive life-prolonging (with or without quality) therapy and only for those who are rich.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gpmanrpi ( 548447 )
      Gleevac (Imatinib) makes Ph+ CML a manageable livable Chronic Disease, instead of dying very rapidly. While it is expensive and "life-prolonging," it is very life-prolonging. And there are other TKIs that can now be taken if there is drug-resistance. [] Many of these drugs are in Phase II trials. The problem is that articles in Time about Imatinib or in TFA about a PNAS journal article, show the sensationalist nature
      • His point about those treatments being "only for the rich" still holds though.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Only for the rich or those who live in a country with universal healthcare.

      • depending on where the patient live, depending on whether they got insurance, depending on their insurance coverage,
        they can now choose

        (1) to die now and leave a fortune to their wife, sons and daughters
        (2) to die later and leave everyone broke

        and that is a difficult question. when i worked back then as a junior doctor in an oncology center, they had trouble buying those "expensive" "next generation" chemotherapy which may last a few cycle (only), which was already a money hog to the family... now they have
    • The difference here is the buzz word nano. If the new treatment is a true nano cure, then the difference between this and the old "magical cures" would be the difference between using a drone strike to target the headquarters of a terrorist group versus bombing the village where the headquarters happen to be found.

    • Mod parent up. I've seen countless reports of drugs or techniques that work in immuno-compromised mice or other animals that fail to work when translated to human trials, or worse, cannot be replicated by other labs.

      This report, while interesting, is not news -- it's a stepping stone to gain further funding by the researchers for the next step. Once this works decently in humans, then we have a story...

  • Success Rate (Score:5, Informative)

    by kjshark ( 312401 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:13AM (#40735175) Journal

    The previous treatment with ribavirin and interferon for one year had a 50% success rate. The newer six month treatment with the addition of Incivek for three months has over 75% rate. Since Incivek has only been on the market for about a year, that success rate is not as precise as it will be.

    • by muridae ( 966931 )
      Depends on the viral genetics. Type 1 is harder to cure, but most prevalent in the USA. Then a specific pattern inside the type (pair of codons in the DNA, either TC, CT, TT, or CC) can make it harder or easier to cure. Type 1 A has something above 50% success rate with the new three drug treatment, I've been told up to 75% after 6 months (as you mentioned) but with the possibility of knowing if it will work after 2. The viral load reduces by at least log2 at 2 months if it is going to respond well. Other g
  • Next up... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jahava ( 946858 ) on Monday July 23, 2012 @08:50AM (#40735359)

    Hepatitis C++? Hepatitis C#?

    Objective Hepatitis C. *shudders*

  • "Go cure hepatitis C!"
  • This is non-news. Cures which work in cell cultures are a dime a dozen. This is at least six years from going to market, and has >95% chance to fail as an actual drug.

    The real progress are the recently introduced, FDA-approved treatments by Vertex, Merck ( and soon Gilead ( These are really fantastic advances in the treatment of that disease.

  • Jenny McCarthy is no doubt torn right now, between her hatred of vaccines and the desire to eradicate the HepC she no doubt has.

  • If we can program these nano cells to attack, all these, including aids and cancer...that would be the real deal right there....!
    I wonder if you can reprogram it to remove old cells so as not to allow aging to happen too?

  • While interesting, this research is far too late to be remotely useful. There are multiple Phase III trials currently ongoing with new generations of HCV treatments - at least one of these will become the de facto standard of treatment for HCV cures in the future, with REAL human cure rates of > 90% if not 100%, depending on genotype and statues re: failed previous treatment courses of course. That puts them about 8 years ahead of these guys. Interesting science though, and I wish them luck.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll