Vaccine research: Basis for the development of a mouse model found / Humans are the only natural host of the hepatitis C virus. Mice, in contrast, are not susceptible. “The reasons for this were not exactly known”, says Professor Dr. Thomas Pietschmann, Director of the Institute for Experimental Virology at TWINCORE.  Now, with the support from national and international colleagues, his team has succeeded in identifying two factors that protect mice liver cells from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV): These are Cd302, a lectin, and Cr1l, a complement receptor-like protein. These results, published in the journal Science Advances, lay the foundation for the future development of a mouse model for HCV vaccine research. First author is Dr. Richard Brown, one of the other authors is RESIST-scientist Professor Dr. Thomas Krey.

In the mouse, the two factors are constantly expressed in the liver and can function independently from the interferon system. Together these two mouse proteins are sufficient to dramatically reduce the proliferation of HCV in human liver cell cultures when they are artificially introduced.

To further characterise the identified restriction factors, the TWINCORE scientists sought support from several colleagues at the TWINCORE, at MHH and HZI, but also from England, Belgium and the USA. Over 40 authors from more than 20 research institutions contributed to the publication, including this year’s Nobel Prize winner Professor Charles M. Rice.

The photo showes Dr. Brown (right), Professor Pietschmann (in the middle) and co-author Birthe Tegtmeyer (left) in TWINCORE-lab (Copyright: TWINCORE / Carpeniter).