Published on July 31, 2012 at 2:43 AM
Gale directed the research effort for both projects. He heads the Center for Study of Innate Immunity to
Hepatitis C Virus and the Center for Immune Mechanisms of Flavivirus Control, as well as two National
Institutes of Health-funded multi-million dollar programs to develop new antiviral therapies and vaccine
"These two new discoveries," Gale said, "greatly advance our knowledge of how the body senses and responds to virus infection and provide us with new avenues to explore when designing antiviral therapies and new vaccines.
"West Nile virus is an emerging virus that has spread across the United States, and hepatitis C virus infects
over 170 million people globally. Both viruses are devastating to the health of the individuals they infect. That is why the development of new clinical resources such as vaccines and antivirals for each is so critical."
West Nile virus is spreading throughout North America through infected mosquitoes. It can cause paralysis and death in people. Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through contact with blood or blood products containing the
virus. It causes swelling and inflammation of the liver.
Most hepatitis C infections are persistent because the virus evades the immune defenses that normally limit the course of disease. The virus generates a chronic liver inflammation which scars the organ's tissues. The scarring can lead to liver failure and increases the risk of liver cancer. While therapies are available to treat hepatitis C infections, these treatments have harsh side-effects and are not effective in all people. No antiviral therapies are available to treat people infected with West Nile virus.
Source: University of Washington