New Research Confirms Link Between Herpes Virus and Kaposi's Sarcoma

Aug 10, 1998

New York, NY

A new study published in the August 6 issue of Nature provides further evidence that human herpes virus 8 (HHV8), also known as Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Virus (KSHV), is the cause of Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common malignancy for people with HIV.

These results were reported by researchers from the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University. Earlier research had shown that the HHV8 virus was present in Kaposi's sarcoma lesions, which suggested that it may be the cause of the disease. However, it had not been demonstrated that the virus was capable of transforming cells in culture, which is the first step toward malignancy.

For the first time, Dr. Ethel Cesarman, Assistant Professor of Pathology, and her colleagues, Dr. Ornella Flore, Visiting Professor of Pathology and Dr. Shahin Rafii, Assistant Professor of Medicine, have provided the missing link, as they have shown that the infection of human endothelial cells with purified HHV8 particles transforms these cells.

"Further understanding of the mechanism used by this virus to cause cancer may lead to the development of better and more targeted treatments and prevention strategies for Kaposi's sarcoma, which remains a serious health problem in this country and abroad," said Dr. Cesarman.