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Johnson Cancer Research Center

Dr. Lorena Passarelli

Division of Biology

“We study how insect viruses called baculoviruses regulate their genes and replicate theirDNA genome. Our studies may give insight into cancer-associated questions for two main reasons. First, although baculoviruses are not known to cause cell transformation or act as carcinogens in the natural host, they replicate in similar ways as other viruses that are involved in tumorigenesis. Most major DNA-containing virus families include viruses that can cause cellular transformation, yet viruses within each family are very diverse. Thus, studying baculoviruses that have replication parallels to those of transforming viruses may help elucidate how tumorigenic viruses work. Second, baculoviruses are being used as vectors to produce vaccines, therapeutic and diagnostic agents that include disease markers of certain types of cancer, and an extensive array of cancer-related cellular or viral proteins. Our studies focus on the elements that regulate the production of these proteins, and our understanding of these events at the molecular level will aid in the development of these products that will include those of tumor-causing agents.”