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Chapter 18 : Uncloaking Hidden Viruses
The concept that viruses could remain latent in human cells and cause cancer, propelled the author to examine the potential role of viruses in human diseases, particularly immune deficiency and cancer. The author was at the time fascinated by the field of lysogeny, in which bacterial viruses (phages) remain hidden within the organism and can make products that are toxic to the host the bacteria invade (e.g., diphtheria toxin). At the Wistar, the author helped derive human lymphoid B cell lines in the early days when only a few papers reported the establishment of such cell lines. It was then fortuitous for the author to be with the Henles when they showed the induction of prolonged growth of B cells by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The irony came when the author found EBV in the cell lines derived at the Wistar. Further virus research training was obtained at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1967 to 1970. This experience certainly laid the foundation for the major focus of the author's research career-retroviruses. With Robertson Parkinson, the author found that mouse embryo cells, once transformed by the murine sarcoma viruses (MSV), could not grow into a visible focus of transformed cells without the spread of new progeny virus to other cells. MSV-infected mouse cells usually died.