Science Interviews


Sat, 12th May 2012

Epstein-Barr virus in dogs

Nell Barrie

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Nell -  So this is about dogs and Epstein-Barr virus, which is type of virus that can cause some types of cancer.  And it can also do that in dogs as well.  And this could maybe mean that we've got a new model for studying this type of relationship in humans.

Kat -  Because there's quite a lot of human diseases that are actually in dogs.  I remember long time ago, there was a paper about I think narcolepsy in Dobermans and there were all these dogs just falling over asleep.  At the moment, there's no other animals that get Epstein-Barr virus.  Why do you think this is going to be useful?

Nell -  Well, one interesting thing about this virus and a lot of other types of viruses is that we know that many, many people are affected with them, infected with them rather.  But they don't always lead to particular types of cancer and everyone who's got the virus inside them.  So we need to figure out why that is, why some people are susceptible to this and others aren't. Perhaps we can figure this out in dogs.  It will give us some clues for what is going on in humans.  And that might lead to new ideas how to treat the disease or maybe prevent it.

Kat -  Because Epstein-Barr, this is really, really common particularly in places like Africa where it really causes a lot of cancers.

Nell -  Exactly.  So we don't really know what's going there, why are some people susceptible to this and others aren't.  We just don't know what's happening inside those cells in the moment.  And if we have an experimental model in dogs for example, that could really give us powerful idea to figure out what's happening.



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