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J Infect. 2001 Aug;43(2):111-5.

Reflections on Epstein-Barr virus: some recently resolved old uncertainties.

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  • 1Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.


The change over recent decades in perceptions of the role of viruses in human cancer-causation is illustrated by the reception given to the discovery of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in 1964 compared to that of Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV or HHV-8) in 1994. Very new data on EBV-like agents in New World monkeys is considered in relation to the antiquity of the association of proto-EBV with early anthropoids. Although the finding that individuals without B lymphocytes do not seem to be infected with EBV appears to have resolved the controversy regarding the permissive cell type producing infectious virus in the oropharynx, the presence of EBV in certain squamous and other epithelial cells raises continuing problems which are discussed. Among many recent successes of molecular biology applied to EBV, new information from such investigations on the genetic defect in X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome now explains the cause of the disastrous pathological changes underlying the disease.Finally, current progress with vaccines against EBV is reviewed.

Copyright 2001 The British Infection Society.

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