Hepatitis C ( Hcv )

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Hepatitis C (HCV) is an infection affecting 170 million people worldwide which ultimately results in liver cirrhosis and hepatic failure in patients with chronic HCV, although HCV was discovered 15 years ago, our understanding of HCV has been limited due to the inability to grow the virus in cell culture (Chevaliez and Pawlotsky, 2006). Hepatitis C virus itself consists of a protein capsid enclosing the genetic material which in the case of HCV is one RNA strand containing 9600 nucleotides. Infection is caused when HCV virus binds to liver cells using cell surface receptors E1 and E2 to induce infection (Jensen and Reau, 2013). There are currently two branch of tests leading the way to diagnosing HCV infection referred to as immunoassays or molecular assays. An immunoassay or immunological assays are quick and accurate test which are used to detect the presence of a specific molecule, in this case the anti-HCV antigen. Due to the great specificity of antibodies and antigens the tests are very accurate as only specific antibodies complementary to that antigen will bind. Molecular assays are diagnostic techniques used to detect specific DNA or RNA sequences associated with disease. Molecular tests may be qualitative to see if the infection is present or quantitative to measure the amount of virus present in a specimen sample. As established above the main difference between molecular and immunological assay is the molecule of detection, in immunological assays anti-HCV is the analyte whereas molecular assays detect viral RNA. Enzyme immunoassays are widely used for diagnosing HCV and work mainly through detection of antibodies against epitopes of different HCV proteins. These assays work through use of antigens as plasma markers t... ... middle of paper ... ...eas for immunoassays the target molecule is anti-HCV antibodies. Immunoassays work out cost effective due to low instrument costs and have been made the preferred method of diagnosis in pharmaceutical analysis (Darwish, 2006). Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) remains one of the most sensitive technique for detection and quantification of RNA targets (Bustin and Nolan, 2004). Both techniques have their drawbacks and advantages however as an overall preferred method molecular assays such as RT-PCR shows the most potential as they can detect and quantify the amount of viral RNA whereas most immunoassays are qualitative methods which will either confirm or deny the presence of the virus. Also ELISAs can sometimes provide false positive readings which then need to be confirmed through further RIBA tests which highlights flaws in this technology.

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