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J Virol. 2004 Feb;78(4):2062-71.

Development of a GB virus B marmoset model and its validation with a novel series of hepatitis C virus NS3 protease inhibitors.

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Department of Virology, GlaxoSmithKline Medicines Research Centre, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2NY, United Kingdom.


GB virus B (GBV-B), a flavivirus closely related to HCV, has previously been shown to infect and replicate to high titers in tamarins (Saguinus sp.). This study describes the use of GBV-B infection and replication in the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) for the successful development and validation of a surrogate animal model for hepatitis C virus (HCV). Infection of marmosets with GBV-B produced a viremia that peaked at 10(8) to 10(9) genome copies/ml for a period of 40 to 60 days followed by viral clearance at 60 to 80 days postinfection. Passage of the initial tamarin-derived GBV-B in marmosets produced an infectious stock that gave a more reproducible and consistent infection in the marmoset. Titration of the virus stocks in vivo indicated that they contained 1 infectious unit for every 1,000 genome copies. Cultures of primary marmoset hepatocytes were also successfully infected with GBV-B, with high levels of virus detected in supernatants and cells for up to 14 days postinfection. Treatment of GBV-B-infected hepatocyte cultures with a novel class of HCV protease inhibitor (pyrrolidine 5,5 trans-lactams) reduced viral levels by more than 2 logs. Treatment of GBV-B-infected marmosets with one such inhibitor resulted in a 3-log drop in serum viral titer over 4 days of therapy. These studies provide the first demonstration of the in vivo efficacy of a small-molecule inhibitor for HCV in an animal model and illustrate the utility of GBV-B as a surrogate animal model system for HCV.

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