Hepatitis C vaccine performs well in clinical trials
Scientists and researchers in the UK have taken a step closer to developing a new vaccine that protects against the hepatitis C virus.
The team from Oxford University say clinical trials of the vaccine have shown “promising” results after it was tested on 41 people.
According to the researchers, the vaccine emulated similar resistance responses to hepatitis C that the few people in the world with a natural immunity to the virus display.
However, the team have warned that more research and investigation into the vaccine is needed and have estimated that this could take years.
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The vaccine has been based on the common cold virus, which had genetic strands of the hepatitis C virus added to it.
It is hoped that the body will then recognise the hepatitis C virus as an intruder and the immune system will be encouraged to attack it.
The researchers are confident that the vaccine will provide long-lasting protection, of at least 12 months if not longer, against the virus which can go undetected in the body for years.
Hepatitis C is incredibly hard to spot because it is constantly changing and taking on new disguises, which is why natural immune systems have such trouble in fighting the virus.
There are also six different strains of the illness and often it has little or no symptoms.
It is estimated that 170 million people could be infected with hepatitis C across the world, which, like the HIV/AIDS virus, is spread blood-to-blood.
The virus is responsible for causing extensive liver damage and even liver cancer. It has also been linked to being a cause of early death.
As of yet, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C and current treatments only come with an approximate 50 percent success rate.
Commenting on the results of the vaccine’s trial, one of the researchers, Professor Paul Klenerman, said: “We've found that it's possible to prime large cellular immune responses against hepatitis C that last for at least a year.
“The immune responses we've seen are exciting and we are beginning the next stage of trials.”
He added: “While we are hopeful, it could be a long road to any vaccine that protects people against hepatitis C.”
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Hepatitis C Trust, Charles Gore, said: “This is very promising research.
“There has been rapid development in drugs to treat hepatitis C but vaccine development has lagged behind. Yet, if we only treat existing infections, we will always be behind the curve.
“We badly need to improve prevention and this is an excellent step in that direction,” he added.
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Dubai's new smart neuro spinal hospital: need to know
We take a look at Dubai's new smart hospital.
What: The Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre is a new hospital featuring state-of-the-art technology for spinal, neurosurgical, neurological, orthopaedic, radiosurgery and cancer treatments. The 700 million AED hospital, (equivalent to £138 million), has 114 beds, smart patient rooms, and green spaces for patient rehabilitation, and is four times the capacity of its former premises in Jumeirah. It is also the UAE’s first hospital to have surgical robots.
Where: The hospital is located in the Dubai Science Park. Founded in 2005, Dubai Science Park is home to more than 350 companies from multinational corporations in life sciences, biotechnology and research; over 4,000 people work here each day.
Who: The UAE's Neuro Spinal Hospital and Radiosurgery Centre was first established in Jumeirah in 2002 by Dr. Abdul Karim Msaddi, as the first as the first "super-specialty" neuroscience hospital.
Why: With advanced diagnosis and robotics, the hospital will provide care across neuroscience, spine, orthopaedics and oncology for people residing in the UAE, as well as international patients.
Prof. Abdul Karim Msaddi, Chairman and Medical Director of the hospital, said: “We are proud to bring world-class healthcare services to Dubai and believe our next-generation hospital will be a game-changer for the emirate’s and the region’s medical industry.
"It will not only significantly increase the availability of specialist neuroscience and radiosurgery treatments and provide better patient care but help attract and develop local and international talent. Investing in the new centre represents our continued faith in the resilience of the region’s economy, as well as a testament to our ongoing drive towards healthcare innovation in the UAE.”