Virus-Host Interactions of Polyoma and Papilloma Viruses

Infections and Cancer

AG Pawlita 09/2017
© M. Pawlita,

About 20% of all cancer cases worldwide are associated with infections. The main etiologic agents are 

  • Human Papillomaviruses (HPV) which are associated with cervical cancer, other anogenital cancers, and oropharyngeal cancers
  • Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori), a bacterium that causes gastric cancer
  • the Hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV, HCV) which cause hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) which is associated with Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV8), or Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), causing Kaposi sarcoma

However, the number of cancer cases attributable to infections may be underestimated, and most of the infectious agents mentioned above may also cause other cancers, e.g. HPV and non-oropharyngeal head and neck cancer, or H.pylori and other gastrointestinal cancers. Our aim is to investigate these less firmly established associations, and to discover novel markers based on serology or nucleic acid detection, e.g. for early disease detection, or as progression markers.

To this end, we have developed a high-throughput serological method (“Multiplex Serology”). Multiplex serology allows analyzing up to 2000 serum samples per day for antibodies of up to 100 different antigens simultaneously. We have successfully developed serological assays for all infectious agents mentioned above, and many others. The serology activities of the division are headed by Dr. Tim Waterboer.

In addition, we have developed multiplexed high-throughput nucleic acid detection methods for genotyping of >100 HPV genotypes (“Multiplex HPV Genotyping”), human Polyomaviruses, a sexually transmitted infection panel, and other infectious agents.

We collaborate worldwide with many clinical and epidemiological partners to analyze large-scale seroepidemiological studies and work with corporate partners to commercialize novel diagnostic biomarkers.

Core Facility “Contamination Control”

Since 2008, our group belonged to the Genomics and Proteomics Core Facility of the DKFZ. We were performing routine diagnostics for cell culture contaminations  and human cell line authentication  for the DKFZ. In 2012, the Multiplexion GmbH  was founded as a spin-off of this Core Facility, and is providing the above mentioned services also to researchers from other universities, institutes and industry.

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