(SALT LAKE CITY) In a finding with potentially major implications for identifying a viral cause of prostate cancer, researchers at the University of Utah and Columbia University medical schools have reported that a type of virus known to cause leukemia and sarcomas in animals has been found for the first time in malignant human prostate cancer cells.
If further investigation proves the virus, XMRV (Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus), causes prostate cancer in people, it would open opportunities for developing diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapies for treating the cancer, according to the study published Sept. 7 online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Prostate cancer is expected to strike nearly 200,000 U.S. males this year, making it the second most common form of cancer, outside of skin cancers, among men.
"We found that XMRV was present in 27 percent of prostate cancers we examined and that it was associated with more aggressive tumors," said Ila R. Singh, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at University of Utah and the study's senior author. "We still don't know that this virus causes cancer in people, but that is an important question we're going to investigate."
Singh, also a member of the U of U's Huntsman Cancer Institute and associate medical director at ARUP Laboratories, moved to Utah from Columbia University Medical Center in 2008, where she began this research. She remains an adjunct faculty member at Columbia.
Along with providing the first proof that XMRV is present in malignant cells, the study also confirmed that XMRV is a gammaretrovirus, a simple retrovirus first isolated from prostate cancers in 2006 by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the Cleveland Clinic. Gammaretroviruses are known to cause cancer in animals, but have not been shown to do so in humans. The UCSF study did not examine benign (non-malignant) p
|Contact: Phil Sahm|
University of Utah Health Sciences