It has long been thought that liver disease in hepatitis C patients is caused by the patient's immune system attacking the infected liver, ultimately killing the cells. University of Alberta researchers have discovered something different though.
Michael Joyce and his team transplanted human liver cells into mice, which lack an adaptive immune system. The researchers then infected the liver cells with the hepatitis C virus.
The researchers found that the virus itself damages liver cells and leads to liver cell death. They also found hepatitis C causes inflammation, which is the second step in liver disease.
Joyce's finding sheds new light on the virus and gives researchers more targets for therapy.
His study is published in the February edition of PLoS Pathogens.
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