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D. The Search for Better Anti-viral Treatments

Narrator: This is Science Today. Hepatitis C, a viral infection of the liver, affects more than four million Americans and so far, the only treatment available does not work in a very large proportion of patients. That's why Dr. Raul Andino, a microbiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, was excited to discover that ribavirin, one of two anti-viral drugs used to treat Hepatitis C, has a mechanism that can cause the virus to experience a genetic meltdown.

Andino: And so there's an interesting question there - why work for some and it doesn't work for others? And can we improve it?

Narrator: Andino and his colleagues found that ribavirin causes a flood of new mutations that overwhelms the virus.

Andino: So all that is opening a completely new field in terms of anti viral drugs and there are already three different companies working heavily on trying to further explore whether this can be a genetic concept. But this is just the beginning of it, I think.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.