The challenges of hepatitis C diagnosis and the potential role of Stimmunology (TM) to address them


ANTIVIRAL THERAPY, vol.17, no.7, pp.1415-1422, 2012 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 7
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.3851/imp2472
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1415-1422


The diagnosis of HCV infection is hindered by the long seronegative window period, the high rate of false-positives and the need to differentiate between current and cleared infection. Stimmunology (TM) is a technology by which antibody production can be stimulated, even in a whole blood sample, in vitro. Such stimulation leads to an increase in HCV antibody levels in the blood sample, enabling the detection of HCV infection prior to seroconversion. This increase in the levels of the HCV antibodies, which can be achieved within days of infection, practically resolves the window period problem. The detection of the infection, even at its seronegative stage, translates to increased diagnostic sensitivity and the concomitant dilution of 'noise' in the sample leads to a >96% reduction in the false-positive rate. The stimulation step acts upon HCV-primed lymphocytes in the blood sample; therefore, only in the presence of infection would the increased antibody levels be detected, thus differentiating between current and cleared infection. Clinical diagnostic data have been collected to provide insight as to how the diagnosis of HCV infection may be improved using this technology.