Magazine article Science News

Virus-Smoking Synergy Causes Malignancy

Magazine article Science News

Virus-Smoking Synergy Causes Malignancy

Article excerpt

Virus-smoking synergy causes malignancy

A sexually transmitted virus and a carcinogen found in tabacco smoke apparently join forces to cause mouse malignancies that resemble human cervical cancer, according to early results from an ongoing laboratory study

The research may eventually yield the first laboratory model of human cervical cancer, giving scientists a long-awaited glimpse into the cellular transformation that leads to the dealy disease, says Randall E. Harris, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Cervical cancer kills approximately 4,500 women in the United States each year. While epidemiologic studies have suggested a link with cigarette smoking (SN: 3/18/89, p.166), some scientists believe smoking alone does not heighten the risk of developing the disease. They point to research indicating that only smokers infected with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) show an increased incidence of cervical cancer.

A team led by Lenora R. Garrett at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle now presents the first demonstration that HPV and tobacco toxins can join together in a cancer-causing partnership. Garrett reported the group's preliminary data last week at the American Cancer Society's annual science writers' seminar in Phoenix, Ariz.

The researchers started by culturing normal epithelial cells obtained from human foreskin samples. These skin cells resemble the epithelial cells lining the cervix but are easier to grow in the laboratory, Garrett explains. …

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