Research Interests at Dittmer Lab
By current estimates, 20% of all human cancers are of viral origin or require viral infection as an essential cofactor. The goal of our research is to understand viral tumorigenesis, specifically, cancers that are caused by Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8). KSHV is a double-stranded DNA virus of about 120,000 bp, which belongs to the Rhadinovirus family of human herpesviruses. It was discovered in 1994 and is associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) as well as B-cell cancers such as primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) and multicentric Castleman’s disease (MCD). These diseases are ultimately fatal, as they affect internal organs and, in the U.S., are usually seen in the context of immunosuppression such as that found in HIV-positive individuals or transplant patients.