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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 02:41 GMT
Scientists link cold virus to cancer
Professor Gordon McVie
Professor Gordon McVie is backing the new research
Scottish scientists have identified a link between the common cold and the viruses that trigger cancer.

The scientists, from St Andrews University in Fife, hope to use their findings to develop new treatments for the disease.

The Cancer Research Campaign Scotland estimates one in six of all cancer cases, including cervical cancer and some types of leukaemia, are triggered by viral infections.

Now the charity has agreed to give the St Andrews scientists 250,000 over the next three years to continue their research.

St. Andrew's University
The St Andrews scientists have been given 250,000
Professor Ron Hay, who heads the research team, said: "We are using a cold virus to try to crack the problem because although it does not cause cancer itself, it has features in common with viruses that do.

"Our new research should tell us about the mechanisms viruses use to trigger cancer, perhaps helping in the design of life-saving new drugs."

Professor Gordon McVie, the director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, said the breakthrough by St. Andrew's scientists could lead to new treatments.

"Prof Hay's research is important because if we can find out how viruses cause cancer, we could develop new ways of preventing or treating the disease.

Viral infection

"It would be particularly satisfying if a common cold virus, which has been a nuisance to us for centuries, could one day help to save lives."

Cancer occurs in the human body when cells divide out of control.

Scientists have known for some time that a viral infection can inhibit a cell's ability to control division.

The St Andrews group will join a Cancer Research Campaign team in Dundee and use the common cold virus to try and unlock the secrets of how the molecules work.

They will also search for unknown cold virus molecules which may play an important part in future research.

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