An example of researchers changing their field’s paradigms

This 2018 German review subject was retroviruses:

“Initial indications that retroviruses are connected to neoplastic transformation were seen more than a century ago. 43% of the human genome is made up of such elements and 8% of the genome is comprised of retroviruses that infected human ancestors, entering cells of the germ line or proliferating thereafter by retrotransposition.

Endogenized retroviruses (ERVs) are abundantly expressed in many transformed cells. In healthy cells, ERV expression is commonly prevented by DNA methylation and other epigenetic control mechanisms.

A recent string of papers has described favorable outcomes of increasing human ERV (HERV) RNA and DNA abundance by treatment of cancer cells with methyltransferase inhibitors. Analogous to an infecting agent, the ERV-derived nucleic acids are sensed in the cytoplasm and activate innate immune responses that drive the tumor cell into apoptosis.”

Some researchers weren’t satisfied with the status quo of this century-old field:

“Chiappinelli et al. (2015) and Roulois et al. (2015) demonstrated a link between DNMTi-induced activation of HERV expression and innate sensing of transcribed viral RNAs and activation of innate immunity signaling pathways leading to an inhibition of tumor cell growth. These results represent a paradigm shift in our comprehension of the antitumor activity of demethylating agents.”

There are opportunities for any researcher whose field can be related to epigenetics to update the way studies are done. Why should researchers settle for mediocrity when they can make a difference? “HERVs New Role in Cancer: From Accused Perpetrators to Cheerful Protectors”

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