Moore, Alice E. Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York, New York.
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The first filterable agent (virus) known to cause a solid tumor in chickens. The Rous sarcoma virus is a ribonucleic acid retrovirus. When the virus is inoculated into chick embryos, it causes fatal hemorrhagic disease; in older chickens, pheasants, and ducklings, it produces sarcomas (malignant tumors arising in connective tissue). The virus was discovered in 1911 by F. Peyton Rous, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1966 for his discovery. Initially, little advance was made in the study of the Rous sarcoma virus; however, detailed studies were made possible by modern technological methods. Certain strains of the virus cause tumors in hamsters, rabbits, monkeys, and other species, thus effectively eliminating an age-old notion that tumor viruses are more or less species-specific. Although the virus cannot be demonstrated in tumors in foreign species, transfer of the tumors back to chicks results in reappearance of the active virus. Tissue cultures of chick embryos inoculated with Rous sarcoma virus produce foci of proliferating cells composed of minute aggregations of tumor cells. It was found that the Rous sarcoma virus by itself was incapable of bringing about this change; instead, it needed another closely related virus of the avian leukosis group to act as a “helper” for the production of the foci. Thus, the Rous sarcoma virus is known as a “defective” virus because it is incapable of producing tumors by itself. See also: Animal virus; Avian leukosis; Cancer (medicine); Oncology; Retrovirus; Tissue culture; Tumor viruses; Virus; Virus, defective
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