Research Sections

Section of Infections

Chronic infections altogether account for nearly 20% of cancer cases worldwide, with low- and middle-income countries hardest hit. Research on human papillomavirus (HPV), HIV, hepatitis viruses, Helicobacter species, and herpes viruses and various related cancers is the priority of the Section of Infections (INF), which carries out studies on these infectious agents in different cancer sites in large-scale epidemiological studies and smaller-scale biological studies. These biological studies complement, in terms of mechanisms involved, the overwhelming epidemiological evidence on the role of certain viruses in the etiology of cancer.

As persistent infection with viruses, bacteria, or parasites is a predominant cause of human cancer, the identification of the features of cancers with viral origin is a vital part of the Agency's mission of cancer prevention through measures such as vaccination.

The Section comprises the Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group (ICE) and the Infections and Cancer Biology Group (ICB), the focus of which is specifically on the link between infections and cancer. The main research topics are the cellular transformation mediated by mucosal or cutaneous HPV types and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV); cooperation of environmental factors and infections in promoting carcinogenesis; HPV in cervical cancer and other cancers; cancer excess in people with HIV and other immunosuppressed populations; hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver cancer; and Helicobacter species and cancers of the stomach, biliary tract, and gallbladder. INF is also engaged in monitoring and modelling the introduction of HPV vaccination and HPV-based screening, particularly in low-income countries.

This Section receives funding from several respected foundations and institutes, both national and international, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA; the Institut National du Cancer (INCa), France; Fondation ARC pour la recherche sur le Cancer, France; the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR); the Fondation Innovations en Infectiologie (FINOVI); the Ligue nationale contre le Cancer, France; and the European Commission.