What do warts, verrucas and cervical cancer have in common? They’re all caused by different types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Many of these viruses are transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex. The consequences range from benign tumours and genital warts to cancerous tumours. Human cells infected with HPV can produce unusual patterns of a protein called keratin, as shown in this lab-culture. Keratins are found in our skin and the tissues that line our internal body tracts. Scientists are trying to find out how and why HPV disrupts protein formation. By understanding more about the viral life cycle and the effects it has on skin components, they hope to devise ways to make smear tests more effective at detecting the early stages of cervical cancer.
Written by Brona McVittie
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.