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The Viral Janus: Viruses as Aetiological Agents and Treatment Options in Colorectal Cancer.

  • Author(s): Turkington, Christopher JR;
  • Varadan, Ambarish C;
  • Grenier, Shea F;
  • Grasis, Juris A
  • et al.

In recent years, our understanding of the importance of microorganisms on and within our bodies has been revolutionized by the ability to characterize entire microbial communities. No more so is this true than in cases of disease. Community studies have revealed strong associations between microbial populations and disease states where such concomitance was previously absent from aetiology: including in cancers. The study of viruses, in particular, has benefited from the development of new community profiling techniques and we are now realising that their prominence within our physiology is nearly as broad as the diversity of the organisms themselves. Here, we examine the relationship between viruses and colorectal cancer (CRC), the leading cause of gastrointestinal cancer-related death worldwide. In CRC, viruses have been suggested to be involved in oncogenesis both directly, through infection of our cells, and indirectly, through modulating the composition of bacterial communities. Interestingly though, these characteristics have also led to their examination from another perspective-as options for treatment. Advances in our understanding of molecular and viral biology have caused many to look at viruses as potential modular biotherapeutics, where deleterious characteristics can be tamed and desirable characteristics exploited. In this article, we will explore both of these perspectives, covering how viral infections and involvement in microbiome dynamics may contribute to CRC, and examine ways in which viruses themselves could be harnessed to treat the very condition their contemporaries may have had a hand in creating.

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