Hepatitis C Virus is a single-stranded, positive RNA flavivirus that causes severe liver disease.
Initial and early chronic infection is usually mild or asymptomatic, but often progresses to liver disease, cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
Transmission is primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use or transfusions.
The HCV core protein is a 22kDa structural protein that forms an icosahedral protective shell that surrounds the viral RNA.
The mature viral particle is further encased in a lipid (fatty) envelope of cellular origin into which viral glycoproteins E1 and E2 are embedded.
Nonstructural protein 3 (NS3), is a nonstructural viral protein derived from the HCV polyprotein.
It is an essential viral protein with serine protease and RNA helicase activity.
It is expressed early in the viral replication cycle and as such is a good candidate for early detection of infection.