Old drug shows new use against hepatitis C

by United Press International (arcamax.com)

STANFORD, Calif. (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve developed a novel approach to fighting the hepatitis C virus’s reproduction process using an obsolete antihistamine.

The Stanford University Medical Center scientists said the advance involves two discoveries. “One is that a protein called NS4B is instrumental in binding some of the genetic material, or RNA, and allowing the hepatitis C virus to replicate,” the researchers said. “The other is that the former anti-itching drug clemizole hydrochloride could hinder that protein, resulting in a tenfold decrease in virus replication with no apparent harm to infected liver-like cells.”

Since the former antihistamine drug has previously been used by people, it is automatically eligible for human testing.

“We’re excited about this and we’re actively moving forward toward clinical trials,” said Dr. Jeffrey Glenn, an associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology and a senior co-author of the paper with Professor Stephen Quake. The lead authors are Dr. Shirit Einav and bioengineer Doron Gerber.

The research that also included doctoral student Paul Bryson, postdoctoral student Ella Sklan, research associate Menashe Elazar and Sebastian Maerkl, a former member of Quake’s group, appears in the online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology.


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