Winning the battle against Hepatitis C - Bacon & Eggheads Parliamentary Breakfast

Dr Houghton presenting at the Bacon & Eggheads Parliamentary Breakfast

CanHepC sponsored the latest Bacon and Eggheads breakfast lecture on Parliament Hill looking back at the 30-year career journey of Dr Micheal Houghton, a pioneer in hepatitis C discovery and research. 

The Bacon & Eggheads lectures bring together Parliamentarians with experts in science and engineering to inform on important developments in research and innovation and showcase outstanding Canadian research accomplishments. This series is designed for Members of Parliaments, Senators and senior civil servants, as well as members of the science, engineering & research community that have a connection to the particular topic.   

This particular lecture retraced Dr Houghton’s illustrious career from hepatitis C discovery to the development of blood tests to identify infection to the virus allowing the development of highly effective direct acting antiviral (DAA) drugs. He was introduced by Dr Lorne Tyrrell, a long-time collaborator, who thanked him for his work securing blood supply and treatments.

Dr Houghton is now Director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Applied Virology at the University of Alberta leading the way on the development of a vaccine for hepatitis C. During his presentation we learned that a promising vaccine candidate is being manufactured for clinical testing next year thanks to Canada-wide efforts involving many researchers from the CanHepC Network. Dr Houghton also reminded the audience that hepatitis C is a walking time bomb for the liver and that the current Canadian Policy on screening based on risk factors is insufficient as a large group of people affected by hepatitis C are baby boomers. A vaccine is urgently needed to prevent transmission especially in at risk population such as people who inject drugs and so is the adoption of a Canadian Strategy for the elimination of hepatitis C.

The breakfast took place in the Parliamentary Dinning Hall on Thursday 23rd November, 2017 and was attended by around 40 people including senior civil servants, some members of parliament, researchers and trainees from the CanHepC Network. The question period after Dr Houghton's presentation gave way to stimulating discussions around the high cost of DAA, the need for a vaccine and delivering treatment to different affected populations in Canada.

CanHepC was involved as one of the main sponsor for this event jointly with the Li Ka Shing Institute.