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Short hairpin-looped oligodeoxynucleotides reduce hepatitis C virus replication

Felix Broecker123* and Karin Moelling124

Author Affiliations

1 University of Zurich, Gloriastrasse 30/32, CH-8006 Zurich, Switzerland

2 Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Ihnestrasse 63-73, 14195, Berlin, Germany

3 Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department Biomolecular Systems c/o Free University of Berlin, Arnimallee 22, D-14195, Berlin, Germany

4 Heinrich Pette Institute, Department of Virology, Martini Street 52, D-20251, Hamburg, Germany

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:134  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-134

Published: 23 July 2012



Persistent infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Standard therapy consists of a combination of interferon-alpha and ribavirin, but many patients respond poorly, especially those infected with HCV genotypes 1 and 4. Furthermore, standard therapy is associated with severe side-effects. Thus, alternative therapeutic approaches against HCV are needed.


Here, we studied the effect of a new class of antiviral agents against HCV, short, partially double-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs), on viral replication. We targeted the 5’ nontranslated region (5’ NTR) of the HCV genome that has previously been shown as effective target for small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) in vitro. One of the investigated ODNs, ODN 320, significantly and efficiently reduced replication of HCV replicons in a sequence-, time- and dose-dependent manner. ODN 320 targets a genomic region highly conserved among different HCV genotypes and might thus be able to inhibit a broad range of genotypes and subtypes.


ODNs provide an additional approach for inhibition of HCV, might be superior to siRNAs in terms of stability and cellular delivery, and suitable against HCV resistant to standard therapy. This study underlines the potential of partially double-stranded ODNs as antiviral agents.

HCV; Hepatitis; Replicon; Oligodeoxynucleotide; ODN; Broad inhibitor; Antiviral therapy