Virus Might Cause Some Prostate Cancers

Posted on February 27, 2006

CNN reports the scientists have discovered that some prostate cancers may be caused by a virus. Scientists found a virus that is closely related to a cancer-causing mouse virus in some human patients with prostate cancer.

"It is a very exciting discovery," said Dr. Eric Klein of the Cleveland Clinic, who will present the findings Friday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology prostate symposium in San Francisco. "There is now a suggestion that prostate cancer could be caused by an infectious disease."

Infectious disease-causing viruses are already blamed for causing some liver cancers and cervical cancer. That has planted nagging suspicions in the minds of scientists that some diseases may play important roles alongside genetics, environment and chance in causing breast, stomach and several other forms of cancer.

Researchers are not sure how the virus infected people, but suspect it has been passed on genetically for thousands of years.

"This is a class of virus no one would have looked for in prostate cancer," said UCSF researcher Joe DeRisi, who developed the so-called "gene chip" that made the discovery. DeRisi's chip contains 20,000 snippets of vital genetic material from every known virus. It is the same chip that confirmed a previously undiscovered virus in the cold family that caused the SARS outbreak three years ago.

The scientists plan to expand the testing to see if more patients test positive for the virus. They also plan to conduct more studies to determine whether or not that is an actual link between the virus and human prostate cancer.

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