New hepatitis C vaccine offers hope

Burnet Institute

16 May, 2012

The Burnet Institute’s Hepatitis Immunotherapy (Gowans/Loveland) Laboratory (Professor Eric Gowans absent).

A hepatitis C vaccine developed at Burnet Institute could be the first ever therapeutic vaccine for an infectious disease if an upcoming clinical trial is successful.

The Institute is collaborating with The Alfred hospital on the project, which if proved effective could mean a cure for people with hepatitis C.

Co-head of Burnet Institute’s Hepatitis Immunotherapy (Gowans/Loveland) Laboratory, Associate Professor Bruce Loveland says the vaccine uses the patient’s own cells prepared with components of hepatitis C virus added.

“What we are trying to do is harness the patient’s own immune responses so that it tips the balance so they are either healthier or they are cured,” Associate Professor Loveland told the Herald Sun.

An initial clinical trial in 2008 tested the efficacy and safety of a similar first-generation vaccine – it proved safe with no adverse side effects.

“Previous lab data suggests patients’ immune response increased after the vaccination,” Associate Professor Loveland said.

With about 200,000 Australians with chronic hepatitis C infection, 10,000 new infections a year and severe side effects on current treatment, this vaccine could make a significant impact on the hepatitis C population.

Participants will be injected with the vaccine between one to three times and the treatment period will last four to eight weeks as part of the patient’s regular visits for treatment at the liver clinic at The Alfred.

If you have hepatitis C, genotype 1 and have previously failed interferon treatment and would like to be part of this trial, phone 0415 856 346.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Associate Professor Bruce Loveland

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