University of Alberta researchers have cleared a long-standing misconception about the deadly Hepatitis C virus. They say that the virus is responsible for the annihilation of liver cells, and not the immune system which attacks the cells in the infected organ as previously believed.
Michael Joyce, who led the study, has revealed that his team transplanted human liver cells into mice, which lack an adaptive immune system.
He said that the team later infected the transplanted cells with the hepatitis C virus.
He and his colleagues found the virus damaging liver cells itself, and thereby causing them to die.
The researchers also found that hepatitis C causes inflammation, which is the second step in liver disease.
Joyce said that his team's finding shed new light on the virus, and gave more targets for therapy.
His study has been reported in the journal PLoS Pathogens.