Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease, Center for the Study of Hepatitis C The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major global health problem as it has a high propensity for establishing chronicity. Chronic HCV carriers are at risk of developing severe liver disease including fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. While treatment has considerably improved over the years, therapy is still only partially effective, and is plagued by side effects, which contribute to treatment failure and is expensive to manage. The drug development pipeline contains several compounds that hold promise to achieve the goal of a short and more tolerable therapy, and are also likely to improve treatment response rates. It remains to be seen, however, how potent antiviral drug cocktails will affect the hepatitis C burden worldwide. In resource-poor environments, considerable costs, inadequate infrastructure for medical supervision and distribution may diminish the impact of future therapies. Consequently, development of novel therapeutic and prophylactic strategies is imperative to contain HCV infection globally.