Viral Carcinogenesis

Research paper by A.J. Smith, L.A. Smith

Indexed on: 17 Nov '16Published on: 31 Oct '16Published in: Progress in molecular biology and translational science


Publication date: Available online 26 October 2016 Source:Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science Author(s): A.J. Smith, L.A. Smith Cancer has been recognized for thousands of years. Egyptians believed that cancer occurred at the will of the gods. Hippocrates believed human disease resulted from an imbalance of the four humors: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile with cancer being caused by excess black bile. The lymph theory of cancer replaced the humoral theory and the blastema theory replaced the lymph theory. Rudolph Virchow was the first to recognize that cancer cells like all cells came from other cells and believed chronic irritation caused cancer. At the same time there was a belief that trauma caused cancer, though it never evolved after many experiments inducing trauma. The birth of virology occurred in 1892 when Dimitri Ivanofsky demonstrated that diseased tobacco plants remained infective after filtering their sap through a filter that trapped bacteria. Martinus Beijerinck would call the tiny infective agent a virus and both Dimitri Ivanofsky and Marinus Beijerinck would become the fathers of virology. Not to long thereafter, Payton Rous founded the field of tumor virology in 1911 with his discovery of a transmittable sarcoma of chickens by what would come to be called Rous sarcoma virus or RSV for short. The first identified human tumor virus was the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), named after Tony Epstein and Yvonne Barr who visualized the virus particles in Burkitt's lymphoma cells by electron microscopy in 1965. Since that time, many viruses have been associated with carcinogenesis including the most studied, human papilloma virus associated with cervical carcinoma, many other anogenital carcinomas, and oropharyngeal carcinoma. The World Health Organization currently estimates that approximately 22% of worldwide cancers are attributable to infectious etiologies, of which viral etiologies is estimated at 15–20%. The field of tumor virology/viral carcinogenesis has not only identified viruses as etiologic agents of human cancers, but has also given molecular insights to all human cancers including the oncogene activation and tumor suppressor gene inactivation.