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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 25, Number 4, 2016

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Study Finds No Evidence of Common Herpes Type Virus in Aggressive Brain Cancer Tissue

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“Negative” findings question earlier reports of a link between CMV and brain cancers

In a rigorous study of tumor tissue collected from 125 patients with aggressive brain cancers, researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found no evidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection and conclude that a link between the two diseases, as claimed by earlier reports, likely does not exist. The Johns Hopkins team cautioned that studies to confirm this finding are needed to absolutely rule out any role for the common CMV in glioblastoma and other cancers that arise in neurological support cells called glial cells. But they say their study substantially weakens the likelihood of that role. “We have found no evidence of CMV in these tissues, and if there is no virus, targeting that virus to affect cancer using antiviral drugs or tailored vaccines doesn’t make biological sense,” says Angelo M. De Marzo, MD, PhD, professor of pathology, oncology and urology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. As early as 2002, the Johns Hopkins team says, several studies reported that tumor cells isolated within glioblastomas and other gliomas were infected with CMV, a herpes virus that infects more than half of all adults by age 40 and is related to viruses that cause chickenpox and mononucleosis.

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