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September 27, 2016

Hepatitis C Virus—From Discovery to Cure: The 2016 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award

Author Affiliations
  • 1Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease and Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, Rockefeller University, New York, New York
  • 3Arbutus Biopharma, Doylestown, Pennsylvania
JAMA. 2016;316(12):1254-1255. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.13713

The 2016 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award has been presented to Ralf F. W. Bartenschlager, Charles M. Rice, and Michael J. Sofia for the development of a system to study the replication of the virus that causes hepatitis C virus and for use of this system to revolutionize the treatment of this chronic, often lethal disease.

The liver is the largest organ in the human body and is central for metabolism and many other functions. Several viruses specialize in infecting the liver and are called hepatitis viruses. Five such viruses are known, including hepatitis C virus (HCV), which was originally recognized as an agent of posttransfusion non-A, non-B hepatitis. Given that about 6% of patients receiving blood transfusions developed non-A, non-B hepatitis, tremendous efforts were mounted to isolate and molecularly clone this filterable agent, likely a virus.