Thesis Defense Announcement
To:  The George Mason University Community

Candidate: Leah Byars
Program: Master of Science in Biology
Date:   Thursday April 25, 2013
Time:   1:00 p.m.
Place:  George Mason University, 
             Prince William Campus
             Bull Run Hall, Room 253
Title: "Investigations Into the Association of IL28B Genotype and the Metabolic Profile of Patients With and Without Chronic Hepatitis C"

Thesis Director: Dr. Ancha Baranova

Thesis Committee:  Dr. Kylene Kehn-Hall, Dr. Alessandra Luchini, Dr. James M. Estep
A copy of the thesis will be available in the Johnson Center Library.  All are invited to attend the defense.

Chronic hepatitis C is a viral infectious disease that is caused by HCV virus. It affects an estimated 130-170 million people worldwide. Until recently, the standard treatment for those with chronic hepatitis C was a combination of pegylated interferon- (PEG-IFN-) and the antiviral ribavirin (RBV). In treatment-naive genotype 1 HCV patients, the combination of PEG-IFN- and RBV typically leads to SVR rates between 47% and 54%. In a number of recent studies, the IL28B gene has been shown to play an important role in the outcome of HCV treatment. A particular single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) on chromosome 19q13 (rs12979860), commonly referred to as “IL28B variant” is strongly associated with SVR or lack of it. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a group of medical disorders usually associated with obesity. Some evidence suggests that HCV infection exacerbates MetS, possibly by causing increased insulin resistance (IR) and promoting visceral obesity even further. Metabolic abnormalities have also been shown to influence patients’ response to HCV treatment. Recent, but not conclusive, evidence suggests that, in addition to influencing response to HCV treatment and SVR rates, the IL28B genotypes may be associated with metabolic confounders of HCV such as insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. This study investigates a possible connection between IL28B genotype and MetS components in patients with and without chronic HCV. As expected, correlations between IL28B genotype and SVR, as well as between metabolic profile and SVR, were revealed. Further studies of a connection between IL28B genotype and metabolic outcomes are warranted.