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Tree Shrew Offers Small-Animal Model of Hepatitis C Virus Infection

Researchers from Japan suggest that the tree shrew may be a practical small-animal model for studying the progression of human hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. This discovery would replace the need for rare and expensive studies using chimpanzees, currently the only validated animal model for HCV.

They report their findings in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Virology.

HCV is a highly potent viral infection that can ultimately lead to chronic hepatitis, liver steatosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The current course of treatment against HCV includes interferon therapy (stimulating the processes within cells that slow the reproduction and growth of the virus) in conjunction with the antiviral drug ribavirin, however, the combination treatment is difficult for patients to endure and is often ineffective.

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