Michael Houghton (virologist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Michael Houghton (scientist))
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Michael Houghton
Prof Michael Houghton.jpg
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia (BSc)
King's College London (PhD)
Known forHepatitis C
Hepatitis D
AwardsKarl Landsteiner Memorial Award (1992)
Robert Koch Prize (1993)
William Beaumont Prize (1994)
Lasker Award (2000)
Gairdner Foundation International Award (2013 - declined)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Alberta
Chiron Corporation
ThesisRNA Polymerases and Transcription in the Chicken Oviduct (1977)
WebsiteMichael Houghton, PhD

Michael Houghton is a British scientist, who along with Qui-Lim Choo, George Kuo and Daniel W. Bradley, co-discovered Hepatitis C in 1989.[1] He also co-discovered the Hepatitis D genome in 1986.[2] The discovery of Hepatitis C led to the rapid development of diagnostic reagents to detect HCV in blood supplies which has reduced the risk of acquiring HCV through blood transfusion from one in three to about one in two million.[3][4] It is estimated that antibody testing has prevented at least 40,000 new infections per year in the US alone and many more worldwide.[5] Houghton is currently Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology and Li Ka Shing Professor of Virology at the University of Alberta where he is also Director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, at the age of 17 Houghton was inspired to become a microbiologist after reading about Louis Pasteur.[7][8] Houghton graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in biological sciences in 1972 and subsequently completed his PhD in biochemistry at King's College London in 1977.[9]


Houghton joined G. D. Searle & Company before moving to Chiron Corporation in 1982. It was at Chiron that Houghton together with colleagues Qui-Lim Choo and George Kuo, and Daniel W. Bradley from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, first discovered Hepatitis C.[10]

Houghton was co-author of a series of seminal studies published in 1989 and 1990 that identified hepatitis C antibodies in blood, particularly among patients at higher risk of contracting the disease, including those who had received blood transfusions.[11][12][13][14] This work led to the development of a blood screening test in 1990; widespread blood screening that began in 1992 with the development of a more sensitive test has since virtually eliminated hepatitis C contamination of donated blood supplies in Canada.[15][16] In other studies published during the same period, Houghton and collaborators linked hepatitis C with liver cancer.[17][18][19]

In 2013, Houghton's team at the University of Alberta showed that a vaccine derived from a single strain of Hepatitis C was effective against all strains of the virus.[20][21] The vaccine is currently in clinical trials.

Houghton holds 73 U.S. patents related to his research; a further seven patents are pending.



  1. ^ Choo QL, Kuo G, Weiner AJ, Overby LR, Bradley DW, Houghton M (April 1989). "Isolation of a cDNA clone derived from a blood-borne non-A, non-B viral hepatitis genome". Science. 244 (4902): 359–62. CiteSeerX doi:10.1126/science.2523562. PMID 2523562.
  2. ^ Wang, KS; Choo, QL; Weiner, AJ; Ou, JH; Najarian, RC; Thayer, RM; Mullenbach, GT; Denniston, KJ; Gerin, JL; Houghton, M (9 October 1986). "Structure, sequence and expression of the hepatitis delta (delta) viral genome". Nature. 323 (6088): 508–14. doi:10.1038/323508a0. PMID 3762705.
  3. ^ "Opinion: Nobel-worthy discovery right in our backyard". Canadian for Health Research. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Science world abuzz as virologist turns down Gairdner award". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  5. ^ Thompson, Gilbert (2014). Pioneers of Medicine Without a Nobel Prize. p. 209. ISBN 9781783263868.
  6. ^ "MMI Faculty - Michael Houghton, PhD". Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Michael Houghton, PhD". Canadians for Health Research. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Eureka moments in research". Alberta Innovates: Health Solutions. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  9. ^ Boyer, J.L; Blum, H.E; Maier, K.P; Sauerbruch, T.; Stalder, G.A (2001-03-31). Liver Cirrhosis and Its Development - Google Books. ISBN 9780792387602. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
  10. ^ Houghton, M (2009). "The long and winding road leading to the identification of the hepatitis C virus". J. Hepatol. 51 (5): 939–948. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2009.08.004. PMID 19781804.
  11. ^ Kuo, G; Choo, Q-L; Alter, HJ; Gitnick, GI; Redeker, AG; Purcell, RH; Miyamura, T; Dienstag, JL; Alter, MJ; Stevens, CE; Tegtmeier, GE; Bonino, F; Colombo, M; Lee, W-S; Kuo, C; Berger, K; Shuster, JR; Overby, LR; Bradley, DW; Houghton, M (1989). "An assay for circulating antibodies to a major etiologic virus of human non-A, non-B hepatitis". Science. 244 (4902): 362–364. doi:10.1126/science.2496467.
  12. ^ Esteban, JI; Viladomiu, L; Bonzalez, A; Roget, M; Genesca, J; Guardia, J; Esteban, R; Lopez-Talavera, JC; Hernandez, JM; Vargas, V; Buti, M; Kuo, G; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M (1989). "Hepatitis C virus antibodies among risk groups in Spain". Lancet. 334 (8658): 294–297. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(89)90485-6.
  13. ^ Van Der Poel, CL; Ressink, HW; Lelie, PN; Leentvaar-Kuypers, A; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G; Houghton, M (1989). "Anti-hepatitis C antibodies and non-A, non-B post-transfusion hepatitis in the Netherlands". Lancet. 334 (8658): 297–298. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(89)90486-8.
  14. ^ Alter, HJ; Purcell, RH; Shih, JW; Melpolder, JC; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G (1989). "Detection of antibody to hepatitis C virus in prospectively followed transfusion recipients with acute and chronic non-A, non-B hepatitis". N. Engl. J. Med. 321 (22): 1494–1500. doi:10.1056/nejm198911303212202.
  15. ^ Cha, T-A; Kolberg, J; Irvine, B; Stempien, M; Beall, E; Yano, M; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M; Kuo, G; Han, JH; Urdea, MS (1991). "Use of a signature nucleotide sequence of hepatitis C virus for detection of viral RNA in human serum and plasma". J. Clin. Microbiol. 29: 2528–2534.
  16. ^ Bresters, D; Cuypers, HT; Reesink, HW; Schaasberg, WP; van der Poel, CL; Mauser-Bunschoten, EP; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G; Lesniewski, R; Troonen, H; Lelie, PN (1992). "Enhanced sensitivity of a second generation ELISA for antibody to hepatitis C virus". Vox Sang. 62 (4): 213–217. doi:10.1111/j.1423-0410.1992.tb01201.x.
  17. ^ Hasan, F; Jeffers, L; de Medina, M; Reddy, R; Parker, T; Schiff, E; Houghton, M; Choo, Q-L; Kuo, G (1989). "Hepatitis C HCV associated hepatocellular carcinoma". Hepatology. 10 (4): 580. doi:10.1002/hep.1840100432.
  18. ^ De Bisceglie, AM; Alter, H; Kuo, G; Houghton, M; Hoofnagle, JH (1989). "Detection of antibody to hepatitis C virus in patients with various chronic liver diseases". Hepatology. 10 (4): 581. doi:10.1002/hep.1840100432.
  19. ^ Saito, I; Miyamura, T; Ohbayashi, A; Harada, H; Katayama, T; Kikuchi, S; Watanabe, Y; Koi, S; Onji, M; Ohta, Y; Choo, Q-L; Houghton, M; Kuo, G (1990). "Hepatitis C virus infection is associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 87 (17): 6547–6549. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.17.6547. PMC 54573. PMID 2168552.
  20. ^ Law, JL; Chen, C; Wong, J; Hockman, D; Santer, DM; Frey, SE; Belshe, RB; Wakita, T; Bukh, J; Jones, CT; Rice, CM; Abrignani, S; Tyrrell, DL; Houghton, M. (March 19, 2013). "A hepatitis C virus (HCV) vaccine comprising envelope glycoproteins gpE1/gpE2 derived from a single isolate elicits broad cross-genotype neutralizing antibodies in humans". PLOS ONE. 8 (3): e59776. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059776. PMC 3602185. PMID 23527266.
  21. ^ Houghton, M; Law, J; Tyrrell, DL (2013). "An inactivated hepatitis C virus vaccine on the horizon?". Gastroenterology. 145 (2): 285–288. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2013.06.029.
  22. ^ "World-renowned virologist named recipient of Gairdner Award". March 22, 2013. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  23. ^ Boesveld, Sarah (20 March 2013). "Edmonton scientist turns down $100,000 'baby Nobel' because it shut out colleagues". Retrieved 13 January 2014.