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Cytomegalovirus might speed brain-cancer growth
Date:5/31/2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio A virus that infects most Americans but that usually remains dormant in the body might speed the progression of an aggressive form of brain cancer when particular genes are shut off in tumor cells, new research shows. The animal study by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC James) and at Dana Farber Cancer Institute suggests that cytomegalovirus (CMV) might significantly accelerate the development and progression of glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer.

The virus by itself does not cause cancer, the study suggests, but it might influence tumor development when changes occur that silence two genes called p53 and Nf1 in tumor cells. These genes are protective "tumor suppressor" genes that normally cause cells to die before they become malignant. But cancer-related changes can silence them, enabling malignant cells to survive, multiply and form tumors.

The findings are published in the journal Cancer Research. Some 50 to 80 percent of Americans become infected with CMV by age 40. The virus is transmitted by contact with infected saliva and other body fluids, and through sexual contact. Most people are infected early in life and then the virus remains dormant.

"CMV has been detected in many cancer types, suggesting that it might be reactivated when cancer occurs in the body," says co-corresponding author and researcher Dr. Chang-Hyuk Kwon, assistant professor of neurological surgery, at the OSUCCC James and at the Dardinger Center for Neuro-oncology and Neurosciences.

The researchers also learned that CMV stimulates tumor-cell proliferation by activating a biochemical cell pathway called STAT3. In healthy cells, STAT3 plays an important role in controlling cell proliferation.

"Our data indicate that CMV contributes to glioblastoma when already-mutated cancer cells proliferate using the STAT3 s
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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