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New study shows potential to treat or prevent viral cancers
Date:6/16/2008

NEW ORLEANS, La.A new study, presented at the SNM 55th Annual Meeting, shows that radioimmunotherapy (RIT) targeting viral antigens offers a novel option to treator even preventmany viral cancers by targeting cancer cells expressing viral antigens or infected cells before they convert into malignancy.

"There is an urgent need to find new approaches to treating and preventing viral cancers," said Ekaterina (Kate) Dadachova, associate professor of nuclear medicine and microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, N.Y. and lead researcher of the study, Viral Antigens as Novel Targets for Radioimmunotherapy of Viral Cancers. "The magnitude and global health-burden associated with viral cancers is only now being realized."

It is estimated that up to 25 percent of all cancers are currently linked to existing viral infections. Most of these cancers are extremely difficult to treat and cannot successfully be reduced or removed using conventional therapies or treatments. Viral cancers include cervical cancers caused by infection with a human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease; hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a cancer of the liver; various lymphomas and carcomas in patients with AIDS/HIV; and other cancers.

According to Dadachova, this is the first time that researchers have attempted to target viral antigens on cancers, although the use of RIT for the treatment of cancer has been under development for thirty years. However, the targets of RIT therapy to date have included only "self" human antigens, which are overexpressed on the tumors but also expressed on normal tissues. Viral antigens, on the contrary, are expressed only on the tumors and nowhere else in the body.

The idea to perform the study was suggested by Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who collaborates with Dadachova on developing radio
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Contact: Amy Shaw
ashaw@snm.org
703-652-6773
Society of Nuclear Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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