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Newly discovered virus linked to deadly skin cancer
Date:1/17/2008

tinguishing feature is that MCV integrates into tumor cells in what is known as a monoclonal pattern, indicating that it infects the cell before the cell becomes cancerous. Tests on six of the eight MCV-positive tumors confirmed that viral DNA was integrated within the tumor genome in this monoclonal pattern, suggesting that infection with MCV could be a trigger for tumor formation. The Pittsburgh team subsequently has confirmed these results with additional tumor specimens.

Clues from elsewhere in the biomedical literature point to the existence of MCV, which has a genetic structure that is closely related to an African green monkey virus found in Germany in the 1970s. Researchers have found antibody evidence from blood tests that indicates some 15 percent to 25 percent of adults are infected with the still undiscovered human relative of this monkey virus. If MCV turns out to be this long-sought infection, then more than 1 billion people worldwide could already be infected.

But again, look to the example of HPV, said Dr. Moore. Although up to 50 percent of sexually active young women are infected with HPV, a small proportion may actually get cervical cancer.

Even if MCV is proven to play a role in MCC, Dr. Chang also cautioned that the virus is likely to be just a part of a much larger picture.

Now we need to find out how it works, she said. Once the virus integrates, it could express an oncoprotein, or it could knock out a gene that suppresses tumor growth. Either way, the results are bound to be interesting.

This is the second tumor-associated virus discovered by Drs. Moore and Chang, a husband-and-wife research team who also discovered Kaposis sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) in 1993. KSHV, which causes Kaposis sarcoma, is the most common malignancy in AIDS patients and the most common cancer in Africa. To find KSHV, Drs. Moore and Chang used a different method to physically subtract human genetic sequences from
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Contact: Michele Baum
BaumMD@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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