The M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize is awarded to a top-class international researcher for outstanding achievement in the field of virology in the broadest sense. The EUR 34,000 prize and a medal are awarded every three years by the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Fund.
Professor Charles M. Rice, United States, is being awarded the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize 2007 for his research in the field of virology, in particular for his research on Flavivirus.
Hepatitis C: The End of the Beginning or the Beginning of the End?
Lecture by Prof. Charles M. Rice, winner of the M.W. Beijerinck Virology Prize 2007
>Since its discovery as the agent responsible for the majority post-transfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis in 1989, hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been a focus of basic and clinical research. Treatment has improved and now more than 50% of those treated can be cured. We still lack vaccines or more specific antiviral agents, which are sorely needed if we are to eradicate this human pathogen. From a virus that replicated poorly if at all in cell culture we now have robust cell culture systems that are being used to unravel each step in the HCV lifecycle. Great strides have also been made in solving high-resolution structures for key viral enzymes and RNA elements. The convergence of these efforts has yielded a pipeline of antiviral targets and compounds, some of which are reaching the clinic and showing promise. However, significant deficiencies remain in the preclinical cell culture and animal models available for studying HCV. The human hepatoma cell lines typically used for HCV studies and the rare HCV isolates that replicate well in cell culture may not be good models for replication of HCV in the liver. Recently, we have initiated collaborations to explore the use of microscale human liver cultures for HCV studies. These cultures retain differentiated hepatocyte properties and are permissive of HCV infection and replication. This advance provides a unique opportunity to probe HCV biology in a more natural cellular environment as well as a system for evaluating candidate inhibitors for efficacy and possible hepatotoxicity.<p>