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New infections cause dormant viruses to reactivate
Date:6/26/2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. The famous slogan is "A diamond is forever," but that phrase might be better suited to herpes: Unlike most viruses, which succumb to the immune system's attack, herpes remains in the body forever, lying in wait, sometimes reactivating years later.

Researchers have long wondered what causes herpes viruses two strains of which are linked to cancer to reactivate after remaining dormant once the initial infection resolves. Now a team of researchers, including two University of Florida scientists, has discovered that interactions with other infections later in life can trigger these dormant viruses to resurface and cause disease.

Understanding more about how specific pathogens interact with each other could help scientists devise new and better ways to combat these infections and the diseases they cause, the researchers write in a paper published today (June 26) in the journal Science.

"Probably 95 percent of us have been infected with at least one herpes virus, but many people never have a problem with it," said study co-author Rolf Renne, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine and a member of the UF Genetics Institute and the UF Health Cancer Center. There are eight herpes viruses that infect humans, causing diseases that range from cold sores and chickenpox to mononucleosis and cancer. "The question has been: What happens to reactivate these viruses to cause disease?"

Led by researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis, the study found that parasite infections later in life can spark an immune reaction that clears the way for the herpes virus to reactivate. In this case, the scientists were studying a specific herpes virus linked to a form of cancer called Kaposi sarcoma, human herpes virus 8.

The researchers discovered that after initial infection by the virus, a protein called interferon gamma keeps herpes in check, which explains w
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Contact: April Frawley
afrawley@ufl.edu
352-273-5817
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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