JHM logoAccording to a recent research, more than seventy percent of people contracting Hepatitis C will live with the virus that causes it for their entire lives and some will develop serious liver disease including cancer. Nevertheless, nearly 30 to 40 percent of those patients are somehow capable of defeating the virus and overcoming it without taking any treatment. John Hopkins investigators working as part of an international team recently found the powerful genetic alteration linked with the capability to overcome the infection.

An earlier research conducted by David Goldstein at Duke University had identified a variation in a single chemical of DNA, called as a single-nucleotide polymorphism, or SNP, near the IL28B gene, which while overly misinterpreted, is believed to assist the immune response to Hepatitis C viral infection. People diagnosed with Hepatitis C, who carried the C/C variation SNP near their IL28B gene, were found more likely to respond to hepatitis C treatment, which can help some patients fight the infection.

“If we knew why some people got rid of the disease on their own, then maybe we could figure out ways to help other people who didn’t,” states David Thomas, M.D., professor of medicine and director of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins. “Or maybe even help prevent infections entirely.”

“This is the strongest clue to date to understanding what would constitute a successful immune response,” explains Thomas. “We don’t yet know the significance of this C variant, but we know we need to do more work to find out what it means and whether it might be helpful to halting the disease.”

With attempts to ensure that the C/C variant correlates with the internal capability to get rid of this profound infection once infected, the examiners meticulously observed an intriguing trend. It was mainly that the C/C variant does not appear equally in all populations.

For studying further, the researchers examined DNA from more than 2300 people across the world to determine the distribution of the C/C variant in different populations. Out of the 428 samples taken from Africa, merely 148 carried the C/C genotype. On the other hand, around the 520European samples out of 761 carried the C/C variant. The most astounding results were obtained from the DNA samples of Asia, where 738 of 824 samples carried C/C.

“We wonder if this SNP also explains some of the genetic basis for the population difference of Hepatitis C clearance,” states Chloe Thio, M.D., associate professor of medicine. “It’s been reported that African-Americans are less likely to clear the disease than Caucasians.”

The team intends to carry this research further for understanding in detail why some populations get chronically infected.

This study was published in Nature.