Liver Cancer

Suspicious behavior by a harmless virus

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Science  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1501-1502
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6255.1501-g

Every year doctors diagnose over 700,000 people worldwide with liver cancer. The most common risk factors are alcohol abuse and chronic infection with hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses. A new study hints at a possible nefarious role of adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), which infects about half of all adults with no obvious adverse effects. Nault et al. sequenced the genomes of 193 liver tumors and found that 11 harbored AAV2 sequences integrated near genes previously linked to cancer development. The viral sequences altered the expression of these genes, but whether the integration events contributed causally to tumorigenesis is unclear. Because modified versions of AAV2 are used as gene therapy vectors, answering this question is a priority.

Nat. Genet. 10.1038/ng.3389 (2015).

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