Massey scientists identify genes that could inform novel therapies for EBV-related cancers
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IMAGE: This is Renfeng Li, Ph.D. view more 

Credit: VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers have identified two genes that are responsible for governing the replication of the Epstein-Barr virus, an infection that drives the growth of several types of cancer. The discovery could lead to the development of novel therapies for virus-associated diseases including stomach cancer and lymphomas.

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the most common viral infections in humans – around 95% of adults carry the virus. EBV infections contribute to nearly 200,000 new cases of cancer and more than 140,000 deaths worldwide per year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

EBV-associated cancers include nasopharyngeal (a cancer at the back of the nose and throat), subtypes of stomach cancer, Burkitt’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The life cycle of EBV is divided into latent and lytic phases, where in the latent phase the virus is dormant and in the lytic phase the virus is actively replicating in cells.

Renfeng Li, Ph.D., member of the Cancer Molecular Genetics research program at Massey, conducted a study, published in Cell Reports, which determined that the gene PIAS1 is a crucial factor in preventing

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