Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Prof Ellie Barnes (Nuffield Department of Medicine / DeLIVER lead) comments on the recent Nobel Prize in Medicine, awarded to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice for their discovery of the Hepatitis C virus, a major global health problem and a cause of cancer

In 1989, Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice used what at the time were state-of-the-art technologies available to identify the virus that causes Hepatitis C infection. This ground-breaking discovery allowed for the development of blood tests to diagnose the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and saved millions of lives over the last 40 years.

Testing for HCV has enabled the discovery of chronic infections that results from the Hepatitis C virus. Currently 71 million people are living with HCV, as there is no vaccine to prevent infection. HCV remains a silent disease that is often only diagnosed until symptoms of late-stage liver disease develop. In many cases, it goes undetected until severe complications occur, the most serious of which is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). By this point, existing treatments are often less effective at clearing the infection.

Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of primary liver cancer, which is common in those who have had liver scarring due to Hepatitis B and C infections. 400,000 people globally die each year from HCV, with hepatocellular carcinoma continually on the rise. As a result, viral hepatitis is still one of the most serious global pandemics at large. Due to the lack of an effective HCV vaccine and early detection methods for the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma, it is crucial to develop techniques that can aid its early detection and thereby increase the survival rate of cancer patients.

The full blog is available on the Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre website

Similar stories

No limit to the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease

General Research

A new study led by the University of Oxford on over 90,000 participants shows that there is no upper threshold to the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease – ‘every move counts towards better cardiovascular health.’

Accurate predictions of ovarian cancer outcome possible with new classification system

General Research

The new, Oxford-developed method for subtyping ovarian cancer has been validated in a recent collaboration between the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. Dubbed the ‘Oxford Classic’, researchers have demonstrated that it enables the accurate prediction of patient disease outcome, as well as the development of new targeted cancer therapies.

Accidental awareness in obstetric surgery under general anaesthesia more frequent than expected

General Research

The largest ever study of awareness during obstetric general anaesthesia shows around 1 in 250 women may be affected, and some may experience long-term psychological harm.