What is it about?
It is well established that infectious agents, such as bacteria and viruses, are involved in the development of a variety of human cancers and it is estimated that infectious agents are involved in 20-40% of cancers. Therefore, by finding out more about which infectious agents are involved and the effect they have could lead to a transformation in the outcomes of cancer patients. For the first time an international team, including researchers for the University of East Anglia, have performed a comprehensive study of which viruses are found in the cells of a large variety of cancers.
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Why is it important?
The involvement of viruses in the development of cervical, liver, and nasopharyngeal cancer are well established. Similarly, infection with bacteria, such as Helicobacter pylori infection, have been associated with cancers including those in the stomach, bladder and cervix. The HPV virus is understood to cause the majority of cases of cervical cancer (98%) and it is the most common viral infection of the reproductive organs. HPV implants DNA into the genome of human cells and causes these cells to become cancerous through stopping faulty cells killing themselves and encouraging the cells to replicate to become a tumour. A vaccine has been developed that prevents infection by the two most common types of HPV, HPV16 and HPV18, and this is now given routinely to young adolescent girls. In the UK it has been offered to all girls aged 13 years since 2008 and has reduced pre-cancerous cervical disease in women by 71% and is likely to prevent most cases of cervical cancer. Identifying new links between infection and cancer types has the potential to provide vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine, which could reduce the global impact of cancer.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: The landscape of viral associations in human cancers, Nature Genetics, February 2020, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1038/s41588-019-0558-9.
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