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Archived Comments for: Introducing Infectious Agents and Cancer

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  1. Seeking comments on "Human Mammary Tumor Virus"

    Brian Foley, HIV Databases, Los Alamos National Lab

    16 November 2006

    There are now dozens of GenBank DNA sequence entries for "Human Mammary Tunor Virus", such as the ones with accession numbers DQ910870 and AF248269. There are also many more, identified as "Mouse Mammary Tumor Virus" from human cancer tissue. Also AF513916 "human betaretrovirus". As well as at least one paper linking the geographical distribution of mice to human breast cancers (1).

    However, many human cancer researchers doubt that a mammary tumor virus is involved (2,3). If tumor viruses are involved in human cancers, determining the mode of transmission from mice to humans and/or from human to human is important. It is my opinion, that the evidence for a "human mammary tumor virus" should be based on more than PCR amplification of sequences, as that method is too prone to false positive results by contamination of PCR reactions with DNA from positive control reactions. The sequences of putative HMTV are nearly identical to lab strains of MMTV.


    1: Br J Cancer. 2000 Jan;82(2):446-51.

    Comment in:

    Br J Cancer. 2000 Jul;83(1):133; author reply 134.

    Breast cancer incidence highest in the range of one species of house mouse, Mus domesticus.

    Stewart TH, Sage RD, Stewart AF, Cameron DW.

    PMID: 10646903

    2: Mant C, Gillett C, D'Arrigo C, Cason J. Human murine mammary tumour virus-like agents are genetically distinct from endogenous retroviruses and are not detectable in breast cancer cell lines or biopsies.

    Virology. 2004 Jan 5;318(1):393-404.

    PMID: 14972564

    3: Szabo S, Haislip AM, Garry RF.

    Of mice, cats, and men: is human breast cancer a zoonosis?

    Microsc Res Tech. 2005 Nov;68(3-4):197-208. Review.

    PMID: 16276516

    Competing interests