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FSU scientist leads research on AIDS-related cancer
Date:6/3/2011

ted cells are typically recognized and then eliminated by our immune system," Chase explained. "But Dr. Zhu's group has shown that the KSHV
 ORF45 protein plays a role in preventing the immune system from recognizing infected cells and removing them."

Gaining a better understanding of just how that happens is a key component of the new NIH grant.

An earlier study by Zhu's research team found that the KSHV ORF45 protein "hijacks" the signaling pathways within cells that are critical for a cell's regulation of its multiple processes including what genes are expressed when and at what level, as well as what metabolic pathways will be turned on at any given time, and to what extent.

Now, Zhu's latest grant will help him to clarify the KSHV ORF45 protein's role not only within cellular signaling pathways but also in immune evasion the process by which an invading organism avoids or suppresses the host's immune responses to it.

Unlocking what once were the mysteries of the KSHV infection and replication are crucial to developing effective therapies because, despite the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy against HIV, KS remains a serious disease and the most common cancer among HIV/AIDS patients. KSHV also is associated with other human cancers such as primary effusion lymphoma and multicentric Castleman's disease.

In Africa, KS accounts for nearly half of the reported cancers and is the leading cause of cancer death in some areas. Current treatments for KSHV-associated diseases are not optimal because they don't attack the viral agent specifically.

"Dr. Zhu's work on KSHV ORF45 aims to give us a drug target that is specific to the virus," Chase said. "The newly funded studies should take
 him even closer to that goal."

Since 2008, nine papers coauthored by Zhu's research team have been featured in leading peer-reviewed publications, including the Journal of Virology, PLoS P
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Contact: Fanxiu Zhu
fzhu@bio.fsu.edu
850-644-6273
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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