Manchester: New understanding of how virus triggers cancers

16 Dec 2010 | News

Scientists at Manchester University have uncovered a new mechanism by which human papilloma virus (HPV) triggers cancer. The finding could lead to new treatments for cervical and oral cancer.

HPV infection increases the risk of developing cancers of the cervix and mouth, with two types of the virus accounting for approximately 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.

While the link between HPV and certain cancers has been known for some time, the biological processes involved are not fully understood.

One of the scientists, Ian Hampson said, “Our study has shown that Cdc42, a protein in which is known to be implicated in a number of cancers as well as in tumour spread, is inappropriately activated by the human papilloma virus.”

The research was carried out in the Gynaecological Oncology Laboratories at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, by one of Hampsons’ PhD students, Anthony Oliver, who said, “There are literally hundreds of publications describing the potential role of Cdc42 in malignant disease but our work is the first to show that HPV can activate this protein.

“There is already a drive towards developing drugs that target activated Cdc42 and our findings now indicate that these agents may be useful for the treatment of HPV-related cancers too.”

The HPV16 E6 binding protein Tip-1 interacts with ARHGEF16 which activates Cdc42
Oliver, A.W. et al.
British Journal of Cancer (7 December 2010)

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