Despite the development of curative drugs for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, global eradication of HCV will likely require a prophylactic vaccine. Progress toward a vaccine has been impeded by the absence of mouse models suitable for studying the immune response to HCV.
Billerbeck et al. found that a HCV-related virus isolated from New York City rats produces an infection in laboratory mice that shares several immunological features with human infections (see the Perspective by Klenerman and Barnes). Their initial analyses of the infected mice revealed that acute clearance of the virus was dependent on T cells but not on natural killer cells.