The National Cancer Institute has awarded a $1.25 million grant to UAMS to continue studying a possible link between a subfamily of viruses and lymphoma.
The five-year grant will allow researcher Craig Forrest to examine how gammaherpesviruses promote mutations that could lead to cancer in the lymph system, UAMS said in a news release. It will also fund research of a possible link between malaria and gammaherpesvirus infections in the development of lymphoma.
Questions about those links have been around for decades, according to Forrest, a professor in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
His lab work has focused on synthetic viruses, introduced to mice, that mimic proteins in a highly prevalent virus that causes infectious mononucleosis and several cancers, the release says. After becoming infected, the virus becomes dormant in the body, although it can reactivate and cause cancer in susceptible individuals.
There is no vaccine for humans against gammaherpesviruses.
In addition to providing a better understanding of how gammaherpesviruses cause disease, Forrest anticipates that results of this work will inform new therapeutic approaches for lymphoma and the reduction of mutations caused by gammaherpesviruses and related co-infections.