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Chinese Herbal Medicine Provides A Way to Treat Hepatitis C

June 3, 2014

A compound extracted from a Chinese herbal medicine provides a way to inhibit hepatitis C virus activity in cells at several points in the virus’ cycle, implying that additional research may cure HCV without unpleasant side effects for a significant subset of the population.

Data presented at the International Liver Congress demonstrated that a new compound extracted from Chinese herbal medicines was found to inhibit hepatitis C viral (HCV) activity by approximately 90%. In the study, scientists found that pre-treating human liver cells in vitro with SBEL1 inhibited the activity of the Hepatitis C virus. The cells contained 23% less HCV protein than the control, suggesting that SBEL1 blocks virus entry. Compared to control, the HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels were significantly reduced by 78% in HCV infected cells when treated with SBEL1, suggesting that SBEL1 also affects the viral RNA replication process. In addition, the HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels were significantly reduced by 78% in HCV infected cells treated with SBEL1 compared to the control group, demonstrating that SBEL1 may also affect the viral RNA replication process. Professor Markus Peck-Radosavljevic, Secretary-General of the European Association for the Study of the Liver and Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Vienna, Austria, commented: “In the past, less than 20% of all HCV patients were treated because the available treatments were unsuitable due to poor efficacy and high toxicity. Recent advances mean that we can now virtually cure HCV without unpleasant side effects. However, the different virus genotypes coupled with the complexity of the disease means there is still a major unmet need to improve options for all populations.”


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