Gene caps may turn viruses cancerous


By Bob Holmes CANCER-CAUSING viruses undergo genetic changes as their host cells become malignant. The finding could allow doctors to predict when people infected with a virus will develop cancer, and possibly points to new treatments. It is already known that cells turning cancerous accumulate chemical “caps”, called methyl groups, on crucial tumour-suppressor genes. These caps silence the genes, often speeding up the onset of cancer. Manel Esteller, an epigenetics researcher at the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research in Barcelona, Spain, wondered whether similar methylations were taking place on viral genes as their host cells turned cancerous. To investigate,
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