Sunday, November 13, 2016

Epstein-Barr Virus Causing Blood Cancer

MYC is a gene that causes cancer to develop when turned on and BCL2L11 is a gene that causes cell death and prevents cancer. Both of these genes have been found to be controlled by the Epstein-Barr Virus and causing cancer. This virus enters the body and takes control of enhancer DNA regions which can control the MYC and BCL2L11 genes from a far distance. The virus turns on the MYC cancer developing gene and blocks contact from certain control centers to the BCL2L11 cancer preventing gene and turns it off.
Scientists, however, have discovered that they are able to stop this virus from blocking contact to the BCL2L11 gene by reversing the effect of the virus. They are able to do this using a specific drug. This gives them the opportunity to discover new treatments. They are able to use this information of how this virus controls these two genes to research how it might also control other genes, especially those linked to lymphoma. 
By discovering the mechanisms of this virus and its ability to cause lymphoma, studies can be done to create new treatments that are able to prevent this blood cancer. Professor West (pictured above) at the University of Sussex has been granted approximately $600,000 for research on lymphoma and leukemia in children and adults.
It's amazing to me how one virus is able to enter the body and shut down specific mechanisms while simultaneously turning on another mechanism. 

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