Doctors attack virus that infects 1/4 of Americans | KOB 4
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Doctors attack virus that infects 1/4 of Americans

Erica Zucco
March 05, 2018 04:43 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Doctors at UNM Hospital say they're working to attack a virus that infects nearly one-quarter of all Americans. Human papillomavirus, better known as HPV, is easily spread through skin to skin contact.

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A video posted on Facebook gives a close up look at HPV particles catching a ride into a cell. These are the kind of movements Dr. Michelle Ozbun and her team are studying at the UNM Cancer Research Facility.

"This is really basic science," Ozbun said. "We want to understand it because it needs to be understood, but we think about it in the context of preventing infections."

Ozbun recently won grants from the national institutes of health and Johnson & Johnson to study how HPV gets into cells and interacts with them.

"We're trying to study the types of HPV that are most associated with cancer, but we think that these mechanisms that the viruses use can be applicable to the other HPV types," she said.

While some strains of HPV can cause cancer, others can cause warts or other conditions and it can easily be passed on through skin-to-skin contact. Ozbun hopes this research could lead to work that could slow the spread.

"Some of the knowledge we gain from this may reveal ways to prevent HPV infection that doesn't involve vaccination," she said.

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Erica Zucco

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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