“Genetics and variations in people’s immune systems may expose some people to greater risk of skin cancer after sun exposure,” observed Prof. Frazer.
Certain viruses such as the wart virus or HPV may be found embedded in the skin, which the professor believes, may then trigger the onset of cancer.
“The technology exists for me to test my theory. We will go hunting for the fingerprints of the virus or viruses,” he said.
This is proposed to be done by using the already available sequenced genetic information. The process would take up to six months.
“We will know if a virus causes skin cancer and what virus it is. Then we can make a vaccine straight away. If it turns out not to be a virus we would have learnt why some people get skin cancers and others don’t – it’s a win-win, “the professor said.
“In my lifetime we should be able to remove the threat of skin cancer from the next generation,” said the 57-year-old immunology professor. He indicated that a virus or a group of viruses could be causing the disease,” said Professor Ian Frazer.
Earlier, Professor Frazer identified the human papilloma virus (HPV) as the causative agent of cervical cancer and then went on to develop Gardasil, which is a vaccine against the HPV.
“This group of cancers, which are obviously associated with too much sun exposure, may be started off by a virus infection – which presents a great opportunity, because the idea of vaccinating to prevent a cancer is enormously appealing,” he remarked.