Common chemo drug activates dormant virus in Burkitt's

Researchers out of the University of South Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) believe they have uncovered a mechanism that, when properly exploited for treatment, can treat both an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as well as the common virus known to cause it.

BLOOD CANCER SUBTYPE(S) IN QUESTION

Burkitt's lymphoma and EBV, the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV is extremely widespread, but typically lies dormant within cancer cells).

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COHORT

21 patients between 5-15 years old diagnosed with EBV-related Burkitt's lymphoma and receiving cyclophosphamide.

RESEARCH FINDINGS

The researchers discovered that in children with Burkitt's, the common chemotherapy agent cyclophosphamide "simultaneously triggered an active EBV infection. The increased replication of EBV in cancer tissue makes these cells more susceptible to the antiviral drugs that kill cells containing replicating virus", like ganciclovir and valacyclovir, two already widely-used antiviral drugs.

The discovery shows scientists for the first time just how closely cancers and viruses interact in humans.

PUBLICATION & SOURCES

This study was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

By Ross Bonander

Source: UNC press release

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