Harald zur Hausen
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg
Slightly more than 20% of the global cancer incidence is linked to viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections. Their discovery permitted novel approaches to cancer prevention either by vaccination (Hepatitis B and human papillomaviruses) or by therapeutic interference with persistent infections (HIV, Hepatitis C, Helicobacter pylori, Schistosoma and liver flukes). These developments encourage further research on a potential involvement of other infections in cancers, not yet linked to exogenous agents. We presently study the putative role of novel viruses in cancers of the colon and the breast, but also in multiple sclerosis (MS). Epidemiological studies suggested a possible role of infectious events in these malignancies and MS, probably due to consumption of bovine infected meat and dairy products. A number of novel single-stranded DNAs have been isolated from bovine serum and milk, but also from individual multiple sclerosis lesions. They are presently being analysed for a possible role in these cancers and neurological diseases.