US Pharm. 2010;35(5):Epub.

Chapel Hill, NC—A recent finding that viruses and cancers interact in ways previously unknown to scientists constitutes an important advance in the fight against cancer. A study conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine and the UNC Project in Malawi (southeastern Africa) found that the anticancer drug cyclophosphamide can activate infection by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which typically remains latent inside tumor cells of affected patients. This finding, reported in Clinical Cancer Research, paves the way for a future study—already being planned—using a cancer drug (cytoxan) and an antiviral agent simultaneously to eradicate both the active virus infection and the tumor. Researcher Margaret Gulley, MD, said, “What we have learned…is a potential means of capitalizing on presence of viral genomes within tumor cells to alter those tumor cells in a way that makes them more susceptible to treatment. [This has] implications for other EBV-related malignancies.”

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