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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jan 5;107(1):291-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912966107. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

Unbiased probing of the entire hepatitis C virus life cycle identifies clinical compounds that target multiple aspects of the infection.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Microbial Science, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Over 170 million people are chronically infected by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and at risk for dying from liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current therapy is expensive, associated with significant side effects, and often ineffective. Discovery of antiviral compounds against HCV traditionally involves a priori target identification followed by biochemical screening and confirmation in cell-based replicon assays. Typically, this results in the discovery of compounds that address a few predetermined targets and are prone to select for escape variants. To attempt to identify antiviral compounds with broad target specificity, we developed an unbiased cell-based screening system involving multiple rounds of infection in a 96-well format. Analysis of a publicly available library of 446 clinically approved drugs identified 33 compounds that targeted both known and previously unexplored aspects of HCV infection, including entry, replication, and assembly. Discovery of novel viral and cellular targets in this manner will broaden the therapeutic armamentarium against this virus, allowing for the development of drug mixtures that should reduce the likelihood of mutational escape.

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