Scientists Trace Evolution of HPV To Sex With Neanderthals https://t.co/Jh0hlgQVRd
The American Cancer Society estimates more than 13,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer this year and 30 percent will die from the disease. HPV is responsible for nearly every case of cervical cancer worldwide. Although over 200 types of the virus exist, the National Cancer Institute indicates just two — HPV16 and HPV18 — account for about 70 percent of all cervical cancers. HPV16 infection can also lead to anal cancer and cancers that develop in the throat, at the base of the tongue and the tonsils.
“There is no more carcinogenic agent that causes cancer in humans than HPV, especially HPV16,” said Robert Burk, who led the new research.
As a medical geneticist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, Burk wanted to understand the genetics that drive the development of cancer. But there wasn’t a clear path to study how HPV contributes to the disease. So, he and his team began collecting as much information about the virus as possible.
In research published last year, Burk and colleagues analyzed the genetic sequences of HPV16 viruses from thousands of individuals and found that few women shared an identical form of the virus. It’s an indication that the virus has a knotty evolutionary past, and understanding might help shed light on why it can go on to cause cancer in some cases. Some versions can lead to cancer, others won’t.