Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have created a new hepatitis C test that could lead to targeted treatments for the disease.
The method is said to reduce the rate of trial and error encountered when patients are first prescribed different drugs to treat the infection, with project leaders hopeful the model can be used to predict the effectiveness of different products.
The test will be particularly useful when new antivirals for the infection become available next year.
Writing in the Journal of Virology, researcher Ingrid Imhof said: “This new system will make it easier to select in advance the best treatment option for each individual patient, saving them from ineffective treatments with potentially serious side-effects.”
All six strains of hepatitis C were use to infect liver cells. The cells were then tested using a range of drugs.
The team, led by Professor Peter Simmonds, analysed each strain of the disease to check the effectiveness of the drugs and any resistance to them.
An estimated 250,000 people in the UK and around 170 million people around the world have hepatitis C. The infection, which often has no symptoms, can cause swelling and scarring of the liver.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Journal of Virology