Microbiology Today August 2005

Cancer is a major killer, affecting around one in three people in Western societies. This issue of Microbiology Today focuses on the many relationships between microbes and cancer.

An introduction to viruses and cancer
Over the years, researchers have identified many factors that increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The link between viruses and cancer was one of the pivotal discoveries in cancer research and these days it is generally agreed that viruses are involved in 10-20 % of all cases of cancer, as Dorothy Crawford explains.

Bacteria in cancer therapy
The observation that bacteria could be used as anti-cancer agents dates back 150 years. Caroline Springer and colleagues illustrate how bacteria can be used inside tumours to activate chemotherapeutic drugs only where they are needed, limiting unacceptable side effects. This bacterially directed therapy is in its infancy, but early results show it has potential as a new weapon in the fight against cancer.

Human papillomaviruses and cancer
Papillomaviruses cause a range of diseases, from benign warts and verrucas to cervical and skin cancers. Just as two vaccines go into the last stage of clinical trials, Julie Burns and Norman Maitland take a look at the role these viruses play in cancer.

Nobel microbes define the art of cell division
Understanding the control of cell division and how it can go wrong is essential in the fight against cancer. This knowledge can offer opportunities to develop new therapies and make existing ones more effective. Iain Hagan and Paul Nurse explain the central role that microbes have played in unlocking the secrets of the cell division cycle.

Killer into cure - oncolytic viruses
The idea of virotherapy, the use of viruses for treatment of diseases, is not a new one - trials using viruses to treat cancer were planned as early as the 1950s. But, advances in genetic engineering led to a new era in this field and virotherapy now offers great promise for the treatment of cancer, as Moira Brown explains.

Comment: A microbiologist's view of astrobiology
Is astrobiology really a science? Does it involve microbes? Howard Gest gives his opinion of this topical area.

Dariel Burdass describes SGM's new teaching resources, as well as the Society's education and science promotion activities.

Gradline Editor, Jane Westwell, takes a look at 'Surviving your PhD', a workshop for postgraduates held at the Heriot-Watt meeting in April.

Hot off the Press highlights some new developments in microbiological research published in the Society's journals - Microbiology, Journal of General Virology, International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology and Journal of Medical Microbiology. Topics covered include:

  • First steps toward new CF treatment
  • Olive fly symbiosis
  • In-patient evolution of the hepatitis C virus
  • Fungal sex

Other items include:

Last updated 24 October 2005