Scientists have successfully infected a lab mouse with chronic hepatitis C, opening doors to better study the virus' effect on humans.
Previously, HCV infections were restricted to humans and chimpanzees, with lab mice, the normal testing subjects for viral research, showing immunity. But a recently published study shows researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) successfully sustained the virus in a lab mouse for almost two years.
The new breakthrough, conducted by a research team led by Chinese scientists Tang Hong and Chen Xinwen, has been published on the Cell Research website.
Previous attempts to replicate HCV in mice failed, with the test subjects either unaffected by the virus or with immune systems quickly overcoming the effects.
Their breakthrough saw a mice infected with HCV successfully replicating the virus, showing sustained viremia and infectivity for nearly two years.
Some 80 percent of the lab mice can be infected persistently and show other typical HCV symptoms, such as fatty liver, fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver.
Scientists say the development will open a new way to study the mechanisms of chronic hepatitis C and develop better treatments.
(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2014)