As previously reported, Dr. James F. Holland has spent much of his life attempting to uncover the viral causes of breast cancer as well as the potential link between the mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) and human breast cancer.

Dr. Holland is not the only one that has pursued scientific research into the mouse mammary tumor virus and its connections to breast cancer in women. Dr. Beatriz Pogo from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine has also made progress in researching the impact of MMTV and the discovery of the Human Mammary Tumor Virus (HMTV).

According to The Scientist publication, Dr. Pogo had spent more than 20 years researching poxviruses and a potential leukemia virus before going onto a different area of scientific findings. At the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Pogo began investigating the link between human breast cancer and the mouse mammary tumor virus.

With only about 10 percent of human breast cancers tied to BRCA genetic mutations, Pogo was interested in learning about the other causes of this disease in 90 percent of cases. The discovery of human endogenous retroviruses led scientists, however, to drop favor in MMTV and its link to breast cancer in women.

“MMTV really fell into disrepute,” Polly Etkind, an associate professor at New York Medical College, told the news source. “People just felt that you weren’t going to go from a mouse virus to a human.”

Dr. Pogo began her research by uncovering a 660-base-pair of an MMTV gene with low connection to human endogenous retroviruses. Additionally, Dr. Pogo and her team found the gene in as many as 38 percent of 314 breast tumors.

Pogo and her team were able to bring more interest in the potential links between human breast cancers and the viruses found in mouse mammary tumors. More progress has found other retroviral sequences homologous to the mouse mammary tumor virus.

Both Dr. Holland and Dr. Beatriz Pogo have made significant progress in finding the viral causes of human breast cancer. Over the coming years, the research is likely to be continued and more definitive findings should be able to pinpoint whether or not the mouse mammary tumor virus causes human breast cancer. If such findings are discovered more definitively, then researchers may be able to create a breast cancer vaccine that prevents the disease and saves future lives.

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