Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease and liver cancer with over 180 million persons infected worldwide.While some of the viral genes conform to the definition of oncogenes, the necessity of chronic infection for hepatocellular carcinoma to develop is currently unexplained. Moreover, no vaccine for HCV is available, and immunity against the virus is very poorly understood.
Our Lab leads a research that will contribute to the rational vaccine design against HCV through exploring the antibody response to this infectious agent. We implement a comprehensive study that will fill the critically important gap in technology and knowledge related to the mechanisms of antibody-mediated neutralization of HCV. An important focus of this study will be to translate this information to characterize the envelope structure of the virus and to develop new vaccine strategies.
In another line of research we aim to contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of HCV infection and its effect on the mechanisms leading tohepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We study the dynamic evolutionary balance between the viral modulations of epigenetic changes of chromatin, the HCC-borne mutations, the viral genome and immune system. We also explore the processes that drives HCV infected hepatocytes towards becoming invasive and metastatic.