By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com November 28 2002 1:00 AM ET
A hepatitis C vaccine currently in development at Belgian biotechnology company Innogenetics has shown promise in halting or reversing liver damage in people infected with the hepatitis C virus, which can be transmitted through sexual contact, BBC News reports. The vaccine is not designed to prevent hepatitis C infection but to combat its effects in people who already have the disease. Researchers tested the vaccine on 24 patients who had hepatitis C for an average of nearly 19 years. Each patient received five injections of the vaccine administered once every three weeks, followed by six shots that were given once per month. Liver biopsies taken before and after the vaccine trial showed that the vaccine slowed or stopped scarring and inflammation in the livers of most of the patients. Nine patients even experienced improved liver conditions. Additional human trials are planned.