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article imageFewer cancers are linked to viruses

By Tim Sandle     Aug 12, 2013 in Science
According to a new study, most common cancers are not associated with viruses and that previous figures that have drawn such a link have been over-estimates.
In 2011, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden identified potential viral links to several cancers not previously associated with viruses, including brain tumors and prostate cancer, suggesting the real number could be as high as 40 percent. A new study, however, challenges this Swedish finding. It should be noted that with the original finding, this did not indicate that most virus infections can cause cancer, only that a proportion of cancers related to viruses.
With viruses and cancer, the transformation of a healthy cell into a cancerous cell occurs when a virus infects and genetically alters a cell. The infected cell is regulated by the viral genes and has the ability to undergo abnormal new growth.
The new study was carried out by researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, according to BioNews. The researchers conducted a large-scale analysis to determine that most common cancers have no association or link with viruses.
As part of their investigation, the researchers studied some 3,775 malignant tumor samples. They found that many cancers were not linked to viruses. The types of cancers that were not connected included: myeloid leukemia, cutaneous melanoma, low and high-grade gliomas of the brain, and adenocarcinomas of the breast, colon and rectum, lung, prostate, ovaries, kidneys, and thyroid.
The implication of the new study, if supported, could assist medics with diagnosing the causes of different cancers and possibly help with future treatments, in particular with the devising and designing personalized treatments that can specifically target desired genes.
The new findings have been published in the Journal of Virology. The paper is titled “Landscape of DNA Virus Associations across Human Malignant Cancers: Analysis of 3,775 Cases Using RNA-Seq”.
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