By Alison Trinidad
For the first time, scientists and engineers have identified a critical cancer-causing component in the virus that causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, the most common cancer among HIV-infected people. The discovery lays the foundation for developing drugs that prevent Kaposi’s sarcoma and other related cancers.
“The mechanism behind the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) that causes healthy cells to become malignant is not well understood despite two decades of intensive studies,” said S. J. Gao, PhD, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and principal investigator of the study. “This is the first time that a viral factor has been shown to be required for KSHV-induced malignant transformation. We have identified a mechanism by which these tiny viral molecules cause the cells to become malignant.”