Viral Cause for Prostate Cancer

September 8, 2009

The Scientist

Mounting evidence suggests that prostate cancer is an infectious disease caused by a recently identified virus. The latest report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found the virus was associated especially with aggressive prostate cancers. The notion that prostate cancer is an infectious disease like cervical cancer would  not surprise most cancer experts, noted senior author Ila Singh, of the University of Utah. The suspect is xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus (XMRV), a gammaretrovirus similar to viruses known to cause cancer in animals. Eric Klein at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio reported earlier that both human semen and one of its major components, acid phosphatase, increase XMRV infectivity for prostate cells 100-fold. Klein and his colleagues showed last year that XMRV integrates into host DNA. Another proof would be to demonstrate that XMRV inserts near a gene that promotes cell growth, which would point to the retrovirus being involved in causing cancer. An article in the The Scientist about XMRV mentions that Frederic Bushman, PhD, professor of Microbiology, and Singh are working extablishing that possibility... Read More