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HPV Rears its Cancerous Head


There are 130 unique types of Human Papillomavirus, several kinds of which are known to cause cervical cancer. Researchers are now finding, however, that HPV is also causing head and neck cancers in many regions of the world, according to Ohio State University’s Maura Gillison. Head and neck cancers are driven by environmental conditions such as tobacco use, Gillison said at last week’s AMP conference. Researchers are also currently studying the role of the oral microbiome in these diseases, she added. But incidences of HPV-positive head and neck cancers are increasing. Patients suffering from head and neck cancers are getting younger and the risk factors are changing from alcohol and tobacco use to oral sex and marijuana use (which is thought to be immunosuppressive), Gillison said. However, the good news is that patients with HPV-positive head and neck cancer have a 50 percent reduction in risk of death from HPV-negative cancer. The relative survival for HPV-positive patients is also independent of therapy, leading to the conclusion that therapy for these patients can be de-intensified, Gillison said. She and her team are trying to develop and assay to be used in clinical labs to determine whether tumors are HPV-positive or –negative.

The Scan

Could Mix It Up

The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would allow for the mixing-and-matching of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and boosters, the New York Times says.

Closest to the Dog

New Scientist reports that extinct Japanese wolf appears to be the closest known wild relative of dogs.

Offer to Come Back

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee is offering Anming Hu, a professor who was acquitted of charges that he hid ties to China, his position back.

PNAS Papers on Myeloid Differentiation MicroRNAs, Urinary Exosomes, Maize Domestication

In PNAS this week: role of microRNAs in myeloid differentiation, exosomes in urine, and more.