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Human Oncogenic Viruses: Nature, Discovery and Running Around in Circles

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Human Oncogenic Viruses: Nature, Discovery and Running Around in Circles

Credit: NIH, YouTube

Dr Chang is a distinguished professor of pathology in the Cancer Virology Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. Her laboratory performs basic and applied research on viral oncogenesis with efforts focused in three areas: Merkel cell carcinoma and Merkel cell polyomavirus, the latter of which she discovered; Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, the most common AIDS-associated malignancy; and new pathogen discovery.

Seven viruses collectively comprise an important cause of cancer, particularly in less-developed countries and under conditions of immune suppression. Most of these viruses are common infections for which malignancy is a rare consequence. Viral tumors are by nature biological accidents and tumor viruses are generally "non-permissive" for replication within tumor cells having contracted expression of viral products. These concepts coupled with epidemiological patterns of incidence and advances in technology have facilitated the search for oncogenic viral DNA, mRNA, and even protein as illustrated by Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV) and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV).


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