Magazine article Science News

Scientists Link New Herpesvirus to Cancer

Magazine article Science News

Scientists Link New Herpesvirus to Cancer

Article excerpt

A newly discovered human herpesvirus may cause Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), a treatable cancer that often strikes people who have AIDS, creating bluish-red patches on their skin, researchers report.

Only in the past 10 years or so have investigators determined that some viral infections lead to forms of cancer in humans. So far, their list of suspects remains quite short - three viruses have definitely been linked to malignancy

"This is the first laboratory evidence we have that KS may be due to an infectious agent," says Patrick S. Moore, an epidemiologist with Columbia University and the New York City Department of Health. Moore and his colleagues published their results in the Dec. 16 SCIENCE.

The findings "are interesting; they are exciting," says Bernard Roizman of the University of Chicago. However, no one can accurately assess their significance until researchers find out whether the virus actually causes KS, he cautions. Scientists know of eight other human herpesviruses but have linked only six to diseases, Roizman says.

Moore and his colleagues detected a very small segment of the new herpesvirus' DNA by comparing the DNA sequences in an AIDS patient's healthy tissue with sequences in that patient's cancerous tissue. To locate the infecting virus' DNA, they "subtracted out" from the KS sample any DNA that also existed in the normal tissue, explains coauthor Yuan Chang, a pathologist at Columbia.

The researchers then found the herpesvirus segment in KS tissue from 25 other AIDS patients. …

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