Researchers Map Role of Epstein Barr Virus In Cancer

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Epstein Barr Virus In Cancer

Researchers at the University of Toronto have mapped the molecular details that show how a viral protein coded in the Epstein-Barr virus immortalizes cells and causes them to continuously grow, thereby predisposing people to certain types of cancer.

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"Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common human viruses in the world and is strongly linked to certain b-cell cancers like Burkitt's lymphoma as well as the epithelial cell cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma. EBNA1 is a protein coded in the Epstein-Barr virus and suspected to play a role in the development of cancer," says Lori Frappier, professor in medical genetics and microbiology at U of T and senior author of a paper in the April 1 issue of Molecular Cell.

"This research shows how EBNA1 interferes with natural cell growth regulation by binding to a particular protein in cells, causing them to continue growing and therefore increasing the risk of becoming cancerous."

Frappier explains that all cells contain the two proteins

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