A naturally occurring compound may help in the treatment of hepatitis C infection, say researchers.
Quercetin is a plant-derived bioflavonoid, and is used by some people as a nutritional supplement.
Laboratory studies show it may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it is being investigated for a wide range of potential health benefits.
During the study, researchers identified two cellular proteins that are important factors in hepatitis C virus infection.
"This is an important finding because we can block these proteins with the idea of reducing the level of the virus in people and, ideally, completely eliminate it," said Samuel French, who also is a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
"Because Quercetin targets cellular proteins rather than viral proteins, there is less likelihood of developing viral resistance.
"Cellular proteins cannot change like viral proteins can," French added.
The researchers found that the compound "reduced infectious particle production at non-toxic concentrations."
"A non-toxic treatment for chronic hepatitis C would be great because our current therapies have significant side effects and only a certain percentage of the patient population responds," French added.
The study appears in the journal Hepatology.