UCSF and Cleveland Clinic scientists have unearthed a new virus in human prostate tumors that is identical to viruses found in mice, but not in humans. While it is too early to say what exactly the link between this new virus and prostate cancer is, the study aims to determine the relationship if any.
Scientists say that this new discovery was made by using the DNA-hunting "virus chip" that had confirmed the SARS virus some three years ago. "This is a virus that has never been seen in humans before," said Eric Klein, MD, a collaborator in the research and head of urologic oncology at the Glickman Urologic Institute of Cleveland Clinic. "This is consistent with previous epidemiologic and genetic research that has suggested that prostate cancer may result from chronic inflammation, perhaps as a response to infection." The genetics behind prostate cancer are very complex. The first gene to be implicated in this was RNASEL, which defends against viruses. Scientists have often thought that some sort of mutation in this gene could render the body vulnerable to prostate cancer. "The power of the virus chip resides in its ability to simultaneously screen for all viruses, without preconceptions or bias," said Joe DeRisi, PhD, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at UCSF who developed the chip with colleagues in his lab. "In the case of these prostate tissues, no one would have suspected a virus of this class." Klein detailed the findings on February 24 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) prostate symposium in San Francisco.
Contact: Wallace Ravven
University of California - San Francisco