K.S.H.V., the virus that causes AIDS

James Scutero jscutero at panix.com
Wed Feb 1 14:20:52 EST 1995

[My comments in brackets.]

A22                    The New York Times,  Wednesday, February 1, 1995

AIDS Cancer Said to Have Viral Source
Breakthrough Seen In Kaposi's Sarcoma
by Lawrence K. Altman

     Washington, Jan. 31 - Columbia University researchers said here
today that they had found very strong new evidence that a recently
discovered virus causes Kaposi's sarcoma, a cancer that frequently occurs
among AIDS patients.
     The new Kaposi's sarcoma agent belongs to the herpes group of
viruses, which is different from the group that includes H.I.V., the
virus that causes AIDS. [This "new" virus has been around for at least
15 years, but HIV researchers missed it. It took non-HIV researchers
to find it.]
     Dr. Patrick S. Moore and his wife, Dr. Yuan Chang, who headed the
team that made the discovery, said they had tentatively named the agent
Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpes Virus, or K.S.H.V. The discovery
was initially reported in preliminary form in December.
     Dr. Moore's team is growing the virus in tissue cultures in the
laboratory but has not yet seen K.S.H.V. through an electron microscope.
Mapping of the virus's basic genetic structure is virtually complete,
and it turns out to be the largest human herpes virus.
     Although Dr. Moore declined to say flatly that the new virus was
the cause of Kaposi's sarcoma, other experts at the meeting today did.
     "I'm convinced it is a new human herpes virus and that it very
definitely is the cause of Kaposi's sarcoma," said Dr. Steven Miles
of the University of California at Los Angeles. He was co-chairman of
the session at which Dr. Moore presented the advances that his team
had made since December.
     Dr. Miles said that his team in Los Angeles, and others in the
United States and England, had confirmed the findings.
     Reflecting the exitement among the more than 2,000 participants
at the meeting, Dr. Miles said in an interview, "This is a major
breakthrough in Kaposi's sarcoma and will change the scope of research."
     Kaposi's sarcoma was once a rare cancer in the United States, but
for unknown reasons it became epidemic along with AIDS.
     Scientists have been mystified as to why the cancer has affected
different populations differently, particularly that it can affect those
with healthy immune systems. [Because it is the cause of immune system
breakdown-not HIV.]
     The classic form is a rare disease that in the United States is
found in older men of Mediterranean, Italian and Jewish heritage. A
second type has affected Africans. A third type has affected gay men
with AIDS.
     Many scientists have theorized that Kaposi's sarcoma is caused
by a virus. But until today, scientists did not know whether the same
virus was responsible for all types.
     The Columbia team came up with an affirmative answer.
     "It's spectacular work," said Dr. Harold W. Jaffe, a top AIDS
official at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
Atlanta. "Pat's team has found evidence for the same virus in all the
important forms of Kaposi's sarcoma in many areas of the world."
     Dr. Moore credited Dr. Jaffe's earlier epidemiologic studies with
pointing the way to the discovery of the virus.
     Dr. Moore's team studied tissue from 21 people who had Kaposi's
sarcoma and 21 who did not.
     In the 21 with Kaposi's sarcoma, evidence of K.S.H.V. was found
in 20, or 95 percent. Among the 20 were 10 of 11 who were also infected
with H.I.V., all 6 heterosexual participants who were not H.I.V.-infected
and all 4 gay men who were not H.I.V.infected.
     Evidence of K.S.H.V. was found in only 1 of 21 people who did not
have Kaposi's sarcoma. Dr. Moore said he believed the positive reading
resulted from a technical error.
     The Columbia team also found evidence of K.S.H.V. in tissue from
all 21 African adults and children with Kaposi's sarcoma whom it studied.
Twelve were infected with H.I.V.; the others were not. [Then HIV does
not cause KS.]
     Much of the excitement at the meeting, which was sponsored by the
American Society for Microbiology, reflected an opportunity to find
a treatment for Kaposi's sarcoma. 
     In one report, Dr. David Cooper of the University of New South
Wales said that two patients showed complete or partial regression of
Kaposi's sarcoma while being treated with an experimental drug, ABT
538, which is made by Abbot Laboratories. The drug is a member of a
new class called protease inhibitors. It was tested in a small study
that Dr. Cooper led in Australia.
     When participants in today's session peppered Dr. Moore with a
dozen or so questions about Kaposi's sarcoma, he said that much work
remained to be done. Among the questions were these:
How is K.S.H.V. transmitted? [Casually and through the saliva.]
Is the virus present in semen? 
Why does Kaposi's sarcoma affect men predominantly and women rarely?

     Some scientists theorize that there is a hormonal explanation.
But Dr. Miles, the U.C.L.A. expert, said there probably had to be another
explanation because the amount of female hormones changes throughout

-James M. Scutero, proponent of misc.health.aids.

[Yesterday, 14 years ago.]

A20                            The New York Times, Friday, July 3, 1981

        Outbreak Occurs Among Men in New York and California
                      -8 Died Inside 2 Years
                       by Lawrence K. Altman

     Doctors in New York and California have diagnosed among homosexual
men 41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer. Eight
of the victims died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made.
     The cause of the outbreak is unknown, and there is as yet no
evidence of contagion. But the doctors who have made the diagnoses,
mostly in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area, are alerting
other physicians who treat large numbers of homosexual men to the problem
in an effort to help identify more cases and to reduce the delay in
offering chemotherapy treatment.
     The sudden appearance of the cancer, called Kaposi's Sarcoma, has
prompted a medical investigation that experts say could have as much
scientific as public health importance because of what it may teach
about determining the causes of more common types of cancer.

                       First Appears in Spots
     Doctors have been taught in the past that the cancer usually
appeared first in spots on the legs and that the disease took a slow
course of up to 10 years. But these recent cases have shown that it
appears in one or more violet-colored spots anywhere on the body. The
spots generally do not itch or cause other symptoms, often can be
mistaken for bruises, sometimes appear as lumps and can turn brown after
a period of time. The cancer often causes swollen lymph glands and then
kills by spreading throughout the body.
     Doctors investigating the outbreak believe that many cases have
gone undetected because of the rarity of the condition and the difficulty
even dermatologists may have in diagnosing it.
     In a letter alerting other physicians to the problem, Dr. Alvin
E. Friedman-Kien of New York University Medical Center, one of the
investigators, described the appearance of the outbreak as "rather
     Dr. Friedman-Kien said in an interview yesterday that he knew of
41 cases collated in the last five weeks, with the cases themselves
dating to the past 30 months. The Federal Centers for Disease Control
in Atlanta is expected to publish the first description of the outbreak
in its weekly report today, according to a spokesman, Dr. James Curran.
The report notes 26 of the cases-20 in New York and six in California.
     There is no national registry of cancer victims, but the nationwide
incidence of Kaposi's Sarcoma in the past had been estimated by the
Centers for Disease Control to be less than six-one-hundreds of a case
per 100,000 people annually, or about two cases in every three million
people. However, the disease accounts for up to 9 percent of all cancers
in a belt across equatorial Africa, where it  commonly affects children
young adults.
     In the United States, it has primarily affected men older than
50 years: But in the recent cases, doctors at nine medical centers in
New York and seven hopitals in California have been diagnosing the
condition among younger men, all of whom said in the course of standard
diagnostic interviews that they were homosexual. Although the ages of
the patients have ranged from 26 to 51 years, many have been under 40,
with the mean at 39.
     Nine of the 41 cases known to Dr. Friedman-Kien were diagnosed
in California, and several of those victims reported that they had been
in New York in the period preceding the diagnosis. Dr. Friedman-Kien
said his colleagues were checking on reports of two victims diagnosed
in Copenhagen, one of whom had visited New York.

                     Viral Infections Indicated
     No one medical investigator has yet interviewed all the victims,
Dr. Curran said. According to Dr. Friedman Kien, the reporting doctors
said that most cases had involved homosexual men who have had multiple
and frequent sexual encounters with different partners, as many as 10
sexual encounters each night up to four times a week.
     Many of the patients have also been treated for viral infections
such as herpes, cytomegalovirus and hepatitis B as well as parasitic
infections such as amebiasis and giardiasis. Many patients also reported
that they had used drugs such as amyl nitrite and LSD to heighten sexual
     Cancer is not believed to be contagious, but conditions that might
precipitate it, such as particular viruses or environmental factors,
might account for an outbreak among a single group.
     The medical investigators say some indirect evidence actually points
away from contagion as a cause. None of the patients knew each other,
although the theoretical possibility that some may have had sexual
contact with a person with Kaposi's Sarcoma at some point in the past
could not be excluded, Dr. Friedman-Kien said.
     Dr. Curran said there was no apparent danger to non homosexuals
from contagion. "The best evidence against contagion," he said, "is
that no cases have been reported to date outside the homosexual community
or in women."
     Dr. Friedman-Kien said he had tested nine of the victims and found
severe defects in their immunological systems. The patients had serious
malfunctions of two types of cells called T and B cell lymphocytes,
which have important roles in fighting infections and cancer.
     But Dr. Friedman-Kien emphasized that the researchers did not know
whether the immunological defects were the underlying problem or had
developed secondarily to the infections or drug use.
      The research team is testing various hypotheses, one of which
is a possible link between past infection with cytomegalovirus and
development of Kaposi's Sarcoma.

-James M. Scutero, proponent of misc.health.aids

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