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Name: Loretta L Lamb
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Question:
Can viral DNA be changed through exposure to radiation? If so, what type of radiation will do this? Can these irradiated viruses cause changes in the genome of any human cells they may infect? Can these (or any) viruses actually cause cancer, or do they merely act as triggering devices for cancer?



Replies:
In theory, any nucleic acid (viral or otherwise) can be changed by exposure to many kinds of radiation. Depending on the type of virus, these may then change the human cells that they infect. Although there are many different things that are being implicated in causing cancers, it looks like a fairly common model involves the sequential "knockout" of several human genes. Viruses may be one cause of such gene changes, radiation and other environmental causes may also contribute. Some of these changes may be inherited through families, so it becomes more likely that the environmental factors may happen to "hit" the right places in cells to cause cancers in these families. If you ask something more specific, perhaps I can focus my response a bit more.

Ellen



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