Taipei, Jan. 28 (CNA) Taiwan's top research institute Academia Sinica announced new findings Friday on the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that could help refine anti-HCV therapies in the future.
The team, led by research fellow Steve Chen, found that autophagy, a condition in which cells digest themselves, plays an important role in HCV replication, a process linked to the spread of infection in the body, the institute said.
The study offers medical scientists a direction for seeking more effective drugs for hepatitis C sufferers, Chen said, adding that drugs developed to suppress autophagy can be effective in stopping the virus from multiplying in the host body.
The findings were published in the Jan. 4 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Although there are six major genotypes of HCV, only two drugs -- interferon and ribavirin -- are currently used for hepatitis C patients, who sometimes do not respond well to the drugs, Chen said.
"We hope that by understanding the mechanism by which HCV works, we can find ways to curb it," he added.
"This is only the first step in a long journey to find an effective drug for treating HCV," he said. "More work still needs to be done in this field." (By Nancy Liu) ENDITEM/J