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Editing HPV's Genes To Kill Cervical Cancer Cells

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Researchers have hijacked a defense system normally used by bacteria to fend off viral infections and redirected it against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical, head and neck, and other cancers.

Using the genome editing tool known as CRISPR, the Duke University researchers were able to selectively destroy two viral genes responsible for the growth and survival of cervical carcinoma cells, causing the cancer cells to self-destruct.

The findings, appearing online August 7 in the Journal of Virology, give credence to an approach only recently attempted in mammalian cells, and could pave the way toward antiviral strategies targeted against other DNA-based viruses like hepatitis B and herpes simplex.

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