This paper is a bombshell! The author appears to have unlocked the control of hepatitis C replication, and by implication that of other viruses, demonstrated how interferon and ribavirin probably work (previously a matter of some conjecture), explained their immunomodulatory properties, and opened the door to new antiviral treatments. If you have any interest in hepatitis C, HBV, HIV, West Nile, Dengue, or any other clinically important viruses, or their treatment, or prion disease, or how viruses may cause cancer, this article is important to you.
Replicative Homeostasis III: implications for antiviral therapy and mechanisms of response and non-response
Virology Journal 2007, 4:29
While improved drug regimens have greatly enhanced outcomes for patients with chronic viral infection, antiviral therapy is still not ideal due to drug toxicities, treatment costs, primary drug failure and emergent resistance. New antiviral agents, alternative treatment strategies and a better understanding of viral pathobiology, host responses and drug action are desperately needed. Interferon (IFN) and ribavirin, are effective drugs used to treat hepatitis C (HCV), but the mechanism(s) of their action are uncertain. Error catastrophe (EC), or precipitous loss of replicative fitness caused by genomic mutation, is postulated to mediate ribavirin action, but is a deeply flawed hypothesis lacking empirical confirmation. Paradoxically ribavirin, a proven RNA mutagen, has no impact on HCV viraemia long term, suggesting real viruses, replicating in-vitro, as opposed to mathematical models, replicating in-silico, are likely to resist EC by highly selective replication of fit (~consensus sequence) genomes mediated, in part, by replicative homeostasis (RH), an epicyclic mechanism that dynamically links RNApol fidelity and processivity and other viral protein functions. Replicative homeostasis provides a rational explanation for the various responses seen during treatment of HCV, including genotype-specific and viral load-dependent differential response rates, as well as otherwise unexplained phenomena like the transient inhibition and rebound of HCV viraemia seen during ribavirin monotherapy. Replicative homeostasis also suggests a primarily non-immunological mechanism that mediates increased immune responsiveness during treatment with ribavirin (and other nucleos(t)ide analogues), explicating the enhanced second-phase clearance of HCV ribavirin promotes and, thus, the apparent immunomodulatory action of ribavirin. More importantly, RH suggests specific new antiviral therapeutic strategies.