UK Researchers Find Virus that Triggers Burkitt's Lymphoma

The virus that kickstarts Burkitt's lymphoma (a very rare type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed in around 2% of lymphoid-based cancers among people aged 13-24) has been unmasked by researchers at Cancer Research UK's Institute for Cancer Studies at the University of Birmingham.

They say that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a very common but dormant virus found harmlessly in 90% of adults, may be responsible for triggering Burkitt's lymphoma in young people if their immune system's B lymphocyte cells have already been genetically compromised by a predisposition towards cancer.

In other words, if those cells are already predisposed towards lymphoma, the odds of developing Burkitt's is greatly increased if those cells also become infected by the EBV.

According to the research, "In some tumors [EBV causes Burkitt's] by switching on a protein that is usually inactive when the virus is dormant."

More information is available at Cancer Research UK's press release site.

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