10,000 Hepatitis C patients could hold the key to better treatment

This will enable a UK-wide network of researchers to find new ways to tackle the deadly infection.

While there has been considerable progress in the scientific understanding of the disease in recent years, it is currently extremely difficult to track effectively the spread of HCV and to understand the biological roots of the illness.

Dr John McLauchlan will lead the project at the newly-established Medical Research Council – University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in partnership with Professor Will Irving at Nottingham University. Patients will be recruited from clinical centres across the UK currently providing care to HCV patients. The initiative will create HCV Research UK, a consortium of clinicians, academics and healthcare professionals, which aims to promote collaborative research into HCV infection across the UK.

The lack of strategic surveillance of the disease in the UK has also made it harder for doctors to determine why some patients can develop symptoms as soon as they are infected, while others only go onto develop cirrhosis of the liver after many years. By collecting and analysing clinical samples taken from patients, the project will also help researchers examine why certain patients fail to respond to treatment.

At least 250,000 people in the UK are thought to be infected with HCV, the blood-borne virus, which can cause severe liver damage in up to 20 per cent of patients. HCV is ten times easier to contract than HIV, with prisoners and drug users particularly vulnerable to infection.

Dr John McLauchlan at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research says:

“With Hepatitis C rates continuing to rise and place an increasing strain on healthcare resources, it’s crucial that we attack this disease on as many fronts as possible. By creating a well-structured resource, we hope that it will stimulate both clinical and fundamental research into HCV infection in the UK and form the basis for many future studies.”


About the Medical Research Foundation

The Medical Research Foundation is an independent registered charity established by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The Medical Research Foundation receives legacies and donations from the giving public.


The aims of the Medical Research Foundation are to promote medical research anywhere in the world, and in particular, to support research training, public engagement with research and the dissemination of research results for the improvement of human health. The Medical Research Foundation aims to support research that complements and extends that supported by the MRC. The Medical Research Foundation’s trustees recently granted an award to Dr John MacLauchlan and colleagues to establish a national HCV resource. The name used to refer to the ‘Trust Funds administered in connection with the Medical Research Council’ charity (registration number 250696)



For almost 100 years the Medical Research Council has improved the health of people in the UK and around the world by supporting the highest quality science. The MRC invests in world-class scientists. It has produced 29 Nobel Prize winners and sustains a flourishing environment for internationally recognised research. The MRC focuses on making an impact and provides the financial muscle and scientific expertise behind medical breakthroughs, including one of the first antibiotics penicillin, the structure of DNA and the lethal link between smoking and cancer. Today MRC funded scientists tackle research into the major health challenges of the 21st century. www.mrc.ac.uk


University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is one of the top 100 universities in the world with an international reputation for its research and teaching and it plays an important role in the cultural and commercial life of the country. The University is a major research powerhouse, with annual research contract income in the top ten of UK universities.www.gla.ac.uk