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Hepatitis C: effective control on the horizon

Michael Houghton

Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

Michael Houghton talks about his work since 1982, which has helped create new drugs that will be highly effective at curing patients and preventing severe forms of hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

In the last 50 years, we have made tremendous strides in understanding and protecting humankind from viral hepatitis. Despite this, the problem persists. There are thousands of new hepatitis C virus infections every year in Canada, and millions globally, so we need a vaccine urgently.

The good news is that my team at the University of Alberta has made real progress in fighting this disease, long considered a challenge similar to finding a vaccine for HIV. 

Our work has shown that a vaccine from a single strain of hepatitis C can neutralize all of the many highly variable strains of the virus occurring around the world. It tells us that a single hepatitis C vaccine really is possible and can be developed right here at the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology at the University of Alberta. 

Our hepatitis screening blood tests have already prevented millions of infections around the world. The new drugs we’re developing will be highly effective at curing patients and preventing severe forms of hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. 

I now have confidence we will be able to effectively control this global disease.

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