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Prostate Cancer VirusDo you remember Norbert, back when we were students, one of the hottest areas of study was the hunt for viruses that cause human cancer?

We were both convinced that would happen but Iím surprised by how many have actually been identified!

To date, we know 25 percent of all visceral cancers or cancers of internal organs are caused either by a viral or bacterial infection. Now a new report points to accumulating evidence that some forms of male prostate cancer result from a viral infection – and in particular, an especially virulent form.

So far, results indicate all men may be susceptible to this virus – a leukemia related virus called XMRV for short. It belongs to the retrovirus group of viruses – the same group that causes HIV-AIDS.

The XMRV virus was first found in prostate tumors in 2006. Then, earlier this year it was discovered in prostate secretions of men with prostate cancer.

And In a current study, 25% of tissue samples from 300 patients tested positive for the virus.

From the epidemiological studies, itís highly likely this type of prostate cancer is sexually transmitted. How itís transmitted is rather interesting.

Male semen has high levels of a protein called acid phosphatase. In its presence, prostate cells are 100 times more susceptible to XMRV infection.

So, after sexual intercourse when semen is deposited into a womanís vagina, the virus will mix with the protein. Now the virus is primed to infect the prostate tissue of a new, unsuspecting sexual partner.

So much more work remains but imagine when we fully understand the virusí role in this disease. Diagnostic tests and new vaccines could be developed for men from all walks of life.

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For more information…

A new human retrovirus associated with prostate cancer
Journal article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describing the identification and characterization of this new virus.
For more information…

First Evidence of Virus in Malignant Prostate Cells: XMRV Retrovirus Linked To More Aggressive Tumors
Science Daily report of XMRV virus linked to aggressive prostate tumor growth.
For more information…

XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome
The XMRV virus has also be found to possibly be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. This virology blog talks about the virus and it linkage to this disease.
For more information…


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