Their study, "Association of Human Polyomavirus JCV with Colon Cancer: Evidence for Interaction of Viral T-Antigen and -catenin," appears in the Dec. 1 issue of Cancer Research.
Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., professor and director of Temple's Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology, and his co-investigators found the viral genome and viral proteins T-antigen and Agnoprotein in samples of malignant epithelial tumors in the large intestine, which may play a role in the development of the intestinal tract tumors.
"There is a human virus, called JC virus (JCV), which infects greater than 90 percent of the human population worldwide, usually during early childhood," says Khalili, the study's lead researcher.
According to Khalili, the JC virus most likely infects humans through the upper respiratory tract and remains in a latent stage in most people throughout their lives, and, in some cases, causes minor sub-clinical problems. However, in people whose immune systems are depressed, either through chemotherapy given to organ transplant recipients or an illness such as AIDS, JCV can become active and may contribute to cancer in the brain or cause the fatal demyelinating disease Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML).
Khalili says that the current study suggests that, in addition to respiratory transmission, the virus may enter into the human population orally through contaminated food or water.
"What's interesting is that other studies have shown that this virus is present in raw sewage," says Khalili. "In fact, JC virus particles survive in the sewage. This suggests that we may get re-infected with the virus later on in life as well. Re-infection of the human population through contaminated water or fo
Contact: Preston M. Moretz