New virus discovered in prostate tumors
US researchers have discovered a virus in prostate tumors that was previously unknown in this form and has never been detected in humans. A close relative of this pathogen was only found in the genome of mice. The discovery was made possible by DNA chips, like those used to identify the Sars virus three years ago.
The researchers led by Eric Klein from the Urological Institute of the Cleveland Clinic tracked down the virus through a gene called RNASEL, which apparently belongs to the prostate's defense against viruses. In men with mutated forms of this gene, certain types of prostate tumors were observed with striking frequency, the scientists report. The new virus appeared significantly more often in prostate tumors when both versions of the RNASEL gene were mutated.
The researchers say their new discovery confirms previous research suggesting that prostate cancer results from chronic inflammation, possibly caused by a viral infection. However, these connections would have to be examined further – as would the route of infection. Klein considers direct transmission from rodents to humans to be unlikely.