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Detecting New Viruses to Prevent Certain Human Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are working with advanced technologies used to sequence the human genome to search for new viruses in human disease. Dr. Don Ganem says he is particularly interested in finding viruses that cause chronic inflammation linked to cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.

Ganem: I think the most obvious things to say about this is if there were viruses that were linked to these conditions, then first of all, a diagnostic test for the virus might also predict who would be at risk for those diseases. Second, if the virus was important somehow in triggering the disease, that vaccinating against that virus might prevent the disease altogether.

Narrator: Ganem explains that has been the case for Hepatitis B.

Ganem: Vaccination against Hepatitis B virus not only prevents Hepatitis B but it also prevents liver cancer and very profoundly so. I think it's everybody's expectation that vaccinating people against papilloma virus will reduce the risk of cervical cancer. So, those are the models that inspire us.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.