Letter | Published:

Naturally occurring cytotoxic tumour reactive antibodies directed against type C viral envelope antigens



TYPE C RNA viruses are frequently present in murine tumours, but the nature of the association between these viruses and malignancy is uncertain. The oncogene theory1,2 contends that type C viruses possess oncogenic information and that malignancy is the result of activation of this genetic information. Alternatively, the expression of type C viruses in a tumour may be a consequence, rather than a cause, of the neoplastic change and may be beneficial to the host by providing for potential immunological detection and eradication of neoplastic cells3. If type C viral antigens are targets for an immune surveillance mechanism, then normal animals would be expected to show evidence of immune sensitisation against viral antigens expressed on the surface of tumour cells. Here, we present evidence that naturally occurring antibodies (NOA) cytotoxic for a type C virus releasing teratoma-derived cell line are directed against viral antigens.

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