SV40 Cancer Articles

There are over 3,400 scientific articles with SV40 in the title and over 15,000 articles that mention or discuss SV40. This list, therefore, is far from comprehensive, but only provides an example of some articles by experts in the field. 


An increasing number of scientific reports have described evidence for a polyomavirus, simian virus 40, in a highly select group of human tumours. How did a simian virus infect humans and is the virus a passenger in tumours or is it important in their pathogenesis? This study states that SV40 should be considered a group 2A carcinogen.

— Gazdar AF, Butel JS, Carbone M., SV40 and human tumours: myth, association or causality? Nat Rev Cancer. 2002 Dec;2(12):957-64.     

SV40 and Children

SV40 DNA was identified in samples from 4 of 20 children (1 Wilms’ tumor, 3 transplanted kidney samples). Sequence variation among SV40 regulatory regions ruled out laboratory contamination of specimens. This study shows the presence of SV40 infections in pediatric patients born after 1982.

— Butel JS, et al., Molecular evidence of simian virus 40 infections in children. J Infect Dis. 1999 Sep;180(3):884-7.

SV40 in Tumors and Blood from Blood Donors

SV40 large T-antigen sequences were detected at high prevalence, in human biopsies of primary brain (37-44%) and bone (21-37%) tumors, in cell cultures derived from brain (30-54%) and bone (53-80%) tumors. SV40 Tag sequences were detected in 29% of buffy coats of blood donors. However, only four brain tumor cell lines showed all the five regions of the SV40 genome investigated.

— Martini F, et al., Different simian virus 40 genomic regions and sequences homologous with SV40 large T antigen in DNA of human brain and bone tumors and of leukocytes from blood donors. Cancer. 2002 Feb 15;94(4):1037-48.

Human Exposure

Our data demonstrate that humans were exposed to SV40 viruses with both one 72-bp enhancer and two 72-bp enhancers SV40 through contaminated vaccines. Our data also suggest that instead of cytopathic tests, immunohistochemical and/or molecular studies should be used to screen poliovaccines for SV40 to completely eliminate the risk of occasional contamination.

— Rizzo P, et al., Unique strains of SV40 in commercial poliovaccines from 1955 not readily identifiable with current testing for SV40 infection. Cancer Res. 1999 Dec 15;59(24):6103-8.

Our data suggests that there may be an increased incidence of certain cancers among the 98 million persons exposed to contaminated polio vaccine in the U.S.; further investigations are clearly justified.

— Fisher SG, et al., Cancer risk associated with simian virus 40 contaminated polio vaccine. Anticancer Res. 1999 May-Jun;19(3B):2173-80.

Brain Cancers and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

This review examines the molecular biology, pathology, and clinical data implicating SV40 in the pathogenesis of primary human brain cancers and NHL.

— Vilchez RA, Butel JS., SV40 in human brain cancers and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Oncogene. 2003 Aug 11;22(33):5164-72.


This review examines the data implicating SV40 in the pathogenesis of human lymphomas and discusses future directions to define the causative role for SV40 in these malignancies.

— Vilchez RA, Butel JS. Simian virus 40 and its association with human lymphomas. Curr Oncol Rep. 2003 Sep;5(5):372-9.

Bone Tumors

These results indicate that SV40-like sequences are present in human bone tumors.

— Carbone M, et al., SV40-like sequences in human bone tumors. Oncogene. 1996 Aug 1;13(3):527-35.


A simian virus, SV40, has been associated with malignant mesotheliomas and is a probable cofactor in tumor development. The molecular changes caused by each of these major etiologic factors and their interrelationships are the focus of this review.

— Gazdar AF, Carbone M., Molecular pathogenesis of malignant mesothelioma and its relationship to simian virus 40. Clin Lung Cancer. 2003 Nov;5(3):177-81.

Various Cancers

Review of thirteen studies that establish that SV40 is associated significantly with brain tumors, bone cancers, malignant mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

— Vilchez RA, et al., Simian virus 40 in human cancers. Am J Med. 2003 Jun 1;114(8):675-84.

SV40 Strains

The regulatory region (RR) of simian virus 40 (SV40) contains enhancer/promoter elements and an origin of DNA replication. Natural SV40 isolates from simian brain or kidney tissues typically have an archetypal RR arrangement with a single 72-basepair enhancer element. A rare simpler, shorter SV40 RR exists that lacks a duplicated sequence in the G/C-rich region and is termed protoarchetypal. Occasionally, SV40 strain variants arise de novo that have complex RRs, which typically contain sequence reiterations, rearrangements, and/or deletions. These variants replicate faster and to higher titers in tissue culture; we speculate that such faster-growing variants were selected when laboratory strains of SV40 were initially recovered. SV40 strains with archetypal RRs have been found in some human brain tumors. The possible implications of these findings and a brief review of the SV40 RR structure are presented.

— Lednicky JA, Butel JS, Simian virus 40 regulatory region structural diversity and the association of viral archetypal regulatory regions with human brain tumors. Semin Cancer Biol. 2001 Feb;11(1):39-47.

Government Scientists Compromise SV40 Study

Presently there are over 61 reports from 49 different laboratories that have detected SV40 in human mesothelioma, lymphoma, brain and bone tumors, versus three reports, two from Dr. Shah’s laboratory who performed his study under contract from Dr. Strickler at the Viral Epidemiology Branch (VEB) National Cancer Institute (USA) that have failed to detect SV40 in some of these same tumor types. To address whether the negative reports were caused by lack of sensitivity of the technique used in Shah’s laboratory, or whether the positive reports were caused by contamination within the greater number of laboratories reporting SV40 detection, two multi-center studies were conducted. Dr. Shah’s laboratory technique used in 1996 was apparently not sufficiently sensitive to detect SV40 in human tumors. When this became apparent, during unilateral pre-trial testing of positive controls by Dr. Shah, the study coordinator of the VEB, Dr. Strickler, apparently compromised the blinded nature of the study and allowed Dr. Shah to modify and improve his technique. When one of the participating laboratories questioned irregularities in the data from Dr. Shah’s laboratory and directly questioned Dr. Strickler, the study organizer, about the potential irregularity, Dr. Strickler and Dr. Shah offered letters stating that such irregularities had not occurred and re-confirmed that they had not deviated from the standard protocol. The facts indicating that Dr. Shah’s laboratory technique was not sufficiently sensitive to detect SV40 were not made available to the other laboratories participating in the study and were not published. Instead, according to Dr. Shah’s testimony, Dr. Strickler, the VEB multi-center study coordinator, compromised the masked positive controls and knowingly permitted Dr. Shah to re-test and adjust his technique during pre-trial testing. The actual negative pre-trial test results were never published alongside the published trial results indicating Dr. Shah’s laboratory had the most sensitive technique to detect SV40 among the nine participating laboratories.

— MacLachlan DS, SV40 in human tumors: new documents shed light on the apparent controversy. Anticancer Res. 2002 Nov-Dec;22(6B):3495-9.

Consensus Meeting

Evidence in favor and against a possible association of SV40 with human cancer was reviewed at an international consensus meeting at the University of Chicago on 20, 21 April 2001, entitled "Malignant Mesothelioma: Therapeutic Options and the Role of SV40, 2001". The main focus was the association of SV40 with mesothelioma and other human tumors.

— Klein G, et al., Association of SV40 with human tumors. Oncogene. 2002 Feb 14;21(8):1141-9.

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