Hepatitis C Virus Association with Lipid Droplets
Fluorescent and phase contrast light microscopy of cells expressing Hepatitis C Virus proteins.
Hepatitis C Virus
Infection with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major health problem with about 170 million people carrying the virus. It is caught through contact with infected blood, usually by injection (e.g. through injecting drugs or tattooing) and infects the liver.

After catching HCV, most people remain infected for the remainder of their lives unless they are given drugs to try to eradicate the virus. Those who are infected often do not know they are carrying HCV until they develop liver problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer, which can take up to 20 years to arise.

Imaging Interactions between HCV and the Cell
Researchers are trying to find ways of combating HCV by studying how it behaves in cells. The image shows how part of the virus (stained green) attaches to lipid droplets (stained red), which are stores of fat. If scientists can understand how the virus uses lipid droplets, they may be able to develop drugs that can stop virus infection.

The image is taken with a high-resolution microscope that is able to detect fluorescently labelled parts of the virus in cells using lasers.

Image Credits
Confocal microscopy of HCV Infected Cells: J. McLauchlan and S. Boulant, MRC CVR, Glasgow

© 2007 D. Bhella/M. Robertson Molecular Machines/MRC