Scientists identify how virus triggers cervical and mouth cancer

Dec 14, 2010

University of Manchester scientists have discovered for the first time an important new way in which the human papilloma virus (HPV) triggers cancer in what could lead to new treatments for cervical and mouth cancer.

HPV infection is known to increase the risk of developing cancers of the cervix and mouth with the two high-risk forms of the virus accounting for approximately 70% of all cervical cancer cases.

Vaccinations against these high-risk forms of HPV should reduce the incidence of but the frequency of mouth cancer actually increased in the UK by about 50% between 1989 and 2007, a trend that seems to be accelerating.

If the current vaccines prove effective at preventing oral HPV infection, the authors claim their findings provide additional justification for the current programme of vaccinating young girls and may also lend support to extending the programme to young boys too.

"Scientists have known for some years about the link between HPV and certain cancers but the biological processes involved are not fully understood," said Dr Ian Hampson, who with wife Dr Lynne Hampson headed the research. "Our latest results shed new light on this.

"Our study has shown that a protein in called Cdc42, which is already known to be implicated in a number of cancers as well as in tumour spread, is inappropriately activated by the .

"The findings are important since it is essential to increase our understanding of how the virus causes the disease if we are to design new approaches for the prevention or treatment of HPV-related cancers. Mouth cancer, in particular, is notoriously difficult to treat and often leads to long-term disability.

"If the vaccination programme is shown to reduce the incidence of oral HPV infection then this study would appear to support its continued use as a way to prevent HPV-related mouth cancer and perhaps consideration should be given to extending the programme to boys."

The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, was carried out in the Gynaecological Oncology Laboratories at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester, by one of the Hampsons' PhD students, Dr Anthony Oliver.

Dr Oliver said: "There are literally hundreds of publications describing the potential role of Cdc42 in malignant disease but our work is the first to show that can activate this protein.

"There is already a drive towards developing drugs that target activated Cdc42 and our findings now indicate that these agents may be useful for the treatment of HPV-related cancers too."

Explore further: How does prostate cancer form?

More information: 'The HPV16 E6 binding protein Tip-1 interacts with ARHGEF16 which activates Cdc42,' British Journal of Cancer.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HPV virus linked to breast cancer

Jun 11, 2007

A virus that can be sexually transmitted has been found in some patients with breast and other cancers, it was reported Sunday.

Recommended for you

Mutations need help from aging tissue to cause leukemia

1 hour ago

Why are older people at higher risk for developing cancer? Prevailing opinion holds that, over time, your body's cells accumulate DNA damage and that eventually this damage catches up with the body in a way ...

Specific oxidation regulates cellular functions

6 hours ago

For a long time, hydrogen peroxide has been considered as a dangerous metabolite that can damage cells through oxidation. This, however, is not its only role in the cell. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center ...

New disease mechanism discovered in lymphoma

6 hours ago

Programmed cell death is a mechanism that causes defective and potentially harmful cells to destroy themselves. It serves a number of purposes in the body, including the prevention of malignant tumor growth. ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Raveon
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
"...and perhaps consideration should be given to extending the programme to boys."

And who do they think is most likely to get the infection in the mouth if not men? As is usual, they will wait until there are a lot of mouth cancers before they act. The question I want to know is if the vaccine will do anything for those already with a mouth infection.
winthrom
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
I agree with Raveon, "The question I want to know is if the vaccine will do anything for those already with a mouth infection". Moreover, does the vaccine protect older folks from getting the infection?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.