Thursday, December 7, 2017
As many as one in 50 people around the world is infected with some type of hepacivirus or pegivirus, including up to 200 million with hepatitis C virus (HCV), a leading cause of liver failure and liver cancer. There has been speculation that these agents arose in wildlife and jumped species to infect humans; however, little was known about their distribution in other species. Hepatitis C-like viruses identified in bats and rodents.Investigators report the discovery of hepaciviruses and pegiviruses -- close relatives of HCV -- in rodents and bats. The viruses are similar to those that infect humans and may therefore provide insights into the origins of HCV, as well as the mechanisms behind animal-to-human transmission. It may also enable development of new animal models. The discovery may also enable development of new animal systems with which to model HCV pathogenesis, vaccine design, and treatment.As reported in mBio, screened more than 400 wild-caught rodents. Molecular analysis revealed the presence of hepaciviruses and pegiviruses closely related to those found in humans. The rodent hepaviviruses contained sequences that are thought to play a role in liver infection in HCV.