Understanding how the hepatitis C virus leads to liver cancer is crucial in seeking cures for the disease, which affects millions of people across the world.
"It's really exciting that all the pieces are coming together," Choi said. "Whatever we find in the lab has consequences. It has the potential to really impact people."
Choi has published a paper about her research in the July issue of Hepatology, the leading journal in the field of liver disease.
Hepatitis C is blood borne and most often transmitted through contaminated needles, though it can also be passed through unprotected sex. The virus, first discovered in 1987, doesn't directly cause liver cancer. Instead, it causes a chronic infection, which over time causes cirrhosis of the liver and damages a person's DNA. Overtime, that damaged DNA may lead to mutations and cancerous cells in the liver. A person can carry hepatitis C for years without knowing it.