Researchers Use HIV Database Technology To Create Hepatitis C Genetic Database
Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have used technology developed for HIV databases to create an Internet-based hepatitis C genetic database, the AP/USA Today reports. Researchers at the lab began working on the HIV databases 20 years ago and have since created four databases covering HIV genetics, immunology, vaccine trials and genetic mutations. "We've had to develop a whole set of tools to study HIV because of its variability and hepatitis C is the same," Carla Kuiken, one of the chief architects of the database, said. The hepatitis C database is the first of its kind in the United States, Kuiken said, adding that similar databases in Japan and France are not as well funded as the U.S. database. The database includes an electronic library of thousands of genetic sequences of hepatitis C. Researchers have entered 20,000 genetic sequences of the virus into the database, of which only 200 to 250 are complete. The database is the first step in a five-year lab project funded by the NIH. The second step is to develop a database that catalogues immunology information about hepatitis C, which researchers hope to have completed by next year (Hoffman, AP/USA Today, 12/1).
Researchers Examine Costs of Hepatitis C Epidemic
The Chicago Tribune on Monday profiled the hepatitis C epidemic, which some researchers fear could be "as devastating as AIDS." At a recent meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, French and U.S. researchers said the costs of the hepatitis C epidemic could surpass the costs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. AIDS-related deaths in the U.S. are expected to drop to between 4,200 and 6,700 by 2030 as a result of antiretroviral therapies, but annual mortality rates for hepatitis C are expected to rise to between 14,000 and 19,000 by 2030, the researchers said. "The number of new cases is actually going down, but those that have been out there since the 1970s and 1980s will be developing cirrhosis and liver cancer and needing liver transplants, particularly over the next 10 or 20 years," Dr. Donald Jensen, director of hepatology at Rush University Medical Center, said (Gorner, Chicago Tribune, 12/1). The complete article is available online.