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Countering Cancer
13 February 2018

Countering Cancer

Cancer has thousands of different causes. One is human papillomavirus (HPV) – a virus that slips into cells, latches onto their DNA, and wreaks havoc by sending the production of certain proteins into overdrive. Understanding how this causes cancer, particular of the cervix or head and neck, will help scientists develop new treatments. Researchers looking at HPV observed that it spurs the overproduction of two particular proteins called E6 and E7, and that they in turn lead to an increase in a third protein, pirin (green in the cervical cancer cells pictured). They discovered that although both E6 and E7 play a role in this, E7 is the primary driving force. Furthermore, as pirin levels rose, cells were more likely to migrate to new areas – particularly dangerous because that’s how cancer spreads around the body. Armed with this information, we’re one step closer to understanding, and perhaps ultimately stopping, cancer.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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