In the intricate microcosm of our bodies, different diseases may interact with each other. For example, researchers are exploring links between serous ovarian cancer (SEOC), the most common form of ovarian tumour, and the herpes simplex virus. Herpes infects over 65% of the world’s population, so is likely to occur in most SEOC patients. It also encodes small molecules, microRNAs, which manipulate gene activity; these are found in the ovaries of SEOC patients at higher levels than in healthy individuals. Each column here shows a section of cancerous tissue, with cell nuclei in blue, the tumour in yellow and surrounding connective tissues in green. In the last two columns, the merged images in the top row reveal the presence of microRNAs (in pink) in the tumour. Specific types of microRNAs are associated with more or less severe cancers, suggesting that further research into their function could help develop potential treatments.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat