Targeting the host rather than the virus

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) which are leading indications of liver transplantation. To date, there is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection and liver transplantation is invariably followed by infection of the liver graft.

Hepatitis C virus replication cycle

In the past years, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) have had a major impact on the management of chronic hepatitis C, which has become a curable disease in the majority of DAA-treated patients. In contrast to DAAs that target viral proteins, host-targeting agents (HTAs) interfere with cellular factors involved in the viral life cycle. By acting through a complementary mechanism of action and by exhibiting a generally higher barrier to resistance, HTAs offer a prospective option to prevent and treat viral resistance. Given their complementary mechanism of action, HTAs and DAAs can act in a synergistic manner to reduce viral loads.

This review summarizes the different classes of HTAs against HCV infection that are in preclinical or clinical development and highlights their potential to prevent HCV infection, e.g., following liver transplantation, and to tailor combination treatments to cure chronic HCV infection.

Host-Targeting Agents to Prevent and Cure Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Viruses 2015, 7(11), 5659-5685; doi: 10.3390/v7112898

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