Viral DNA and radiation
Name: Loretta L Lamb
Would it be possible for a for a virus to be radiated and it's DNA
structure changed? And it if it were possible and the radiated DNA
affected infected human cells, could it cause cancer? Would the type
of radiation that affects the viral DNA influence the type of reaction
in the human cell?
Most often, irradiated DNA is damaged DNA; and a virus with damaged
DNA is usually less able to survive, just as a cell with damaged DNA
is less able to survive. For both cells and viruses, sometimes the cell
fixes the damage; and sometimes the damage changes the instructions that
the DNA encodes. Cancer can result from such changes; ultraviolet light
(too much sun!) can damage the cell DNA, leading to skin cancers.
Viruses, too, can get changed; some such changes might result in a virus
that "goofs up" the cells control machinery so much that the cell infected
by the virus becomes cancerous.
Ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays, and quite a number of chemicals
can cause such changes; so can simple errors that are made when the DNA
gets copied (replicated).
Steve J Triezenberg
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Update: June 2012