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Oct 24, 2007

Researchers Suggest Novel Role for Viruses in Cancer

  • Viruses may act as forces of natural selection by wiping out normal cells that support their replication and leaving behind those cells that have acquired defects in their circuitry, report researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. When this process is repeated, they explain, cancer may develop.

    This theory, called the Phoenix Paradigm, is based on a study of cells infected with the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). The scientists examined a gene called K13 that activates a pathway previously implicated in cancer development.

    Cells with low K13 expression allowed KSHV to replicate, and these cells subsequently died off, the investigators noted. The team also found that cells with higher expression of K13 emerged after KSHV replication and showed defective expression of two key proteins that are known to promote cancer.

    The findings are published in the October 24 issue of PLoS ONE.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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