Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hepatitis C Cure


Biology D Even
Caroline Schetlick

Works Cited
Pollack, Andrew. "Hepatitis C, a Silent Killer, Meets Its Match." New York Times. New York Times, 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 7 Nov. 2013. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/health/hepatitis-c-a-silent-killer-meets-its-match.html?hpw&rref=science>.


            There have been many experiments attempting to discover a medicinal cure for Hepatitis C, a deadly virus transmitted through the use of needles and occasionally sex. Hepatitis C can lead to severe liver damage or scarring of the liver, also known as cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Dr. Arthur Rubens, a professor of management at Florida Gulf Coast University, was striving to find a cure for his Hepatitis C infection that was gradually destroying his own liver. He continued trying treatment after treatment to try and solve this problem, however none of them worked and only led to horrible side effects, such as insomnia, depression, fever, anemia, and a burning rash. In spite of that, Dr. Rubens engaged in a clinical trial to test new pills against the virus. Taking the pill was easy and the virus was vanished after three months of treatment. Research has shown that Hepatitis C kills more Americans a year than AIDS and is the main cause of liver cancer and transplants. With this in mind, new drugs for this “silent plague” will be coming to markets in the next three years that will help victims of this virus in as little as eight weeks with few side effects. Despite that, the new drugs will cost $60,000 to over $100,000 for treatment, making access to the drug a problem, specifically for the uninsured and in developing countries. Differentiating from HIV, a patient taking these drugs will not have to take them for life. Once the virus is out of his system, he will no longer need to take the drug, whereas HIV victims need to take medication and treatment for life. Having said that, people are still at risk of liver cancer if the virus infected them. This positive energy is a new booster for the research and science world because the previous testing on these pills did not bring the results wanted. With this new drug, it impedes the enzyme of the virus and builds genomes out of the RNA, and the virus can replicate. But, the enzyme produces is somewhat like a decoy so the RNA cannot reproduce a chain, therefore stopping the virus. This was an amazing discovery and a very large step for Hepatitis C patients.
            This article definitely has a large affect on Americans, having said that four million have been infected with Hepatitis C. This article doesn’t only affect Americans, but people worldwide. Hepatitis C has negatively impacted the lives of 150 million people and counting. The discovery of this new pill can be a great thing if scientists figure out an easier way to distribute and find a better cost so it can be financially appealing to all. The fact that someone was capable of creating a “fake” enzyme to somewhat “trick” the virus is simply remarkable. I am truly amazed at the level of complexity scientists can test to today with the use of technology and extreme use of knowledge. This article stuck out to me out of all of the biology articles in particular, mainly because the science of medicine interests me and I love learning about new research and new ideas coming through in the world. I had not really heard of Hepatitis C previously, but I now realize what an impact this virus has made on so many lives. It is astounding, and quite frankly sad. But, things are looking up with this new medication.
            This article was very well written and easy to understand, however very lengthy. The author included many details, maybe too many. In addition, he included large scientific vocabulary in the beginning of the article, which was hard to follow because I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about until the next page where he then explains what the virus is, the side effects, long-term effects, and more. Pollack’s tone of voice in this article really pulled the reader in, creating a want to read more. Overall, a great piece that was very interesting and insightful. 

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