Over the years, the study of tumor viruses has led to important discoveries in cancer research, including the identification of numerous oncoproteins and tumor suppressor proteins critical for the development of all cancers. Although tumor viruses are estimated to cause 10-15% of cancers world-wide, they remain an underappreciated factor in human cancer etiology. Of the seven tumor viruses known to cause human tumors, the two most recently discovered cancer viruses, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) were found by researchers in the UPCI Cancer Virology Program (Drs. Patrick Moore and Yuan Chang). Discovery of MCV at UPCI in 2007 as the causative agent in most Merkel Cell Carcinomas (MCC) has represented the culmination of several years of interdisciplinary research.
The UPCI Cancer Virology Program (CVP) provides broad-ranging expertise in tumor virology and has matured into an internationally recognized center for tumor virus research with expertise on basic mechanisms of viral tumorigenesis, microRNA regulation, viral genomics, and immune signaling in cancer. These diverse research interests have naturally evolved into long-term collaborations with other UPCI Programs like the Molecular and Cellular Cancer Biology Program and the Cancer Immunology Program and with UPCI investigators involved with several collaborative grants including the Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE) in Skin Cancer and the SPORE in Head and Neck Cancer.
The Program's team of highly interactive and productive faculty researchers is focused on 4 areas of emphasis that include:
- Viral Oncology
- AIDS-related and Other Immunodeficiency Malignancies
- Viral Vectors and Gene Therapy
- New Pathogen Discovery
The organization of the CVP into these four areas provide a strong infrastructure to promote the cancer-related viral research of its well-established research groups leading to an impressive track record of individual and collaborative research productivity.