Scientists have determined the most detailed picture, yet of a crucial part of the hepatitis C virus, which the virus uses to infect the liver cells.
The study by the scientists at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), focuses on a protein- known as E2 envelope glycoprotein and reveals unexpected structural features of this protein and should greatly speed efforts to make an effective hepatitis C vaccine.
Any successful hepatitis C vaccine is likely to target the E2 protein. Scientists already have isolated rare antibodies from patients that can bind E2 in ways that neutralize a broad range of viral strains.
"Usually if you try to express the E2 protein in cultured cells, you either can't express it in useful quantities or you can but it aggregates and becomes a big mess," lead author Leopold Kong, a research associate in the Wilson laboratory, said.
The study is published in the journal Science.