In the late 1970’s and early 1990’s pregnant Irish women were exposed to the hepatitis C virus (HCV)-contaminated Anti-D, a medication to prevent rhesus disease. Hundreds of Irish women were exposed to HCV-contaminated Anti-D but never showed any sign of infection.
People are exposed to viruses, such as colds and flu, all the time but only a small number of people actually become infected. Understanding why some people seem to be naturally protected can help us design new ways to combat viral infection. We think that these women have ‘super’ immune systems that protected them from HCV – and may actually be still protecting them from all sorts of other viral infections.
We are embarking on a study targeting all women who were exposed to HCV-contaminated Anti-D between the years of 1977 and 1979. This study aims to explore the reasons why some women were naturally protected from HCV and show no signs of infection. We believe these women may hold the key to fighting off this serious liver disease as well as other viral infections.