Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Salivary Gland Cancer Tied to latent CMV

Scientists at USC claimed to have rigorously confirmed that Human Cytomegalovirus (hCMV) is an oncovirus that can be directly linked to mucuoepidermoid carcinoma, or cancers of the salivary gland. Their findings were published online over the weekend in the journal Experimental and Molecular Pathology, with publication pending but likely soon. In the paper, they claim that hCMV satisfies all of Koch's postulates, as modified for viruses and cancers by their own standards. This translates to 4 major observations:

1. Proteins indicative of the presence of hCMV are seen in cancerous cells.
2. These proteins are not seen in healthy cells.
3. The levels of proteins expressed by hCMV correlate with the severity of the cancer.
4. The presence of hCMV causes the upregulation of a known oncogenic pathway.

If these claims hold up under outside scrutiny and independent confirmation, these findings mean that another member can definitively be added to the roster of oncoviruses: CMV. This would represent an interesting addition considering that CMV is so common and has been thought to typically present little danger to healthy people outside of the common risk-groups(immuno-compromised, organ transplant patients, or newborn infants). If it indeed causes cancer at a non-trivial rate, this may also indicate the birth of a larger field of anti-CMV treatments looking at decreasing the global rate of CMV infections in order to control cancer, much like the modern anti-HPV campaign.

Sources:
Press Release
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-11/uosc-rcn111411.php
Journal Article(Publication Pending):
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014480011001869
-Zachary Herrera

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