Diseases of the Papillomaviridae Virus Family: Warts and Cancer

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  • 0:04 Papillomaviridae Virus Family
  • 0:51 Papillomaviridae…
  • 1:49 Human Papillomavirus
  • 3:33 HPV Associated Diseases
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will describe what virus causes warts, how it is transmitted, what its structure is like, as well as the main type of cancer it can cause. Find out as we take a look at warts, papillomas, and many other beautiful things!

The Papillomaviridae Virus Family

When I think of nasty growths on a person, I think of a really ugly wicked witch with all sorts of boils and other ugly things on her nose and the rest of her face and body. Because she's upset that she's so ugly, she flies around on her broom casting terrible spells and poxes upon people in order to make them feel as bad as she does.

The problem with this witch is that she has a lot of spells that she cooks up in her cauldron at home. After cooking up these nasty spells, she takes them and curses lots of people with all sorts of nasty viruses and diseases associated with the Papillomaviridae virus family, the viruses responsible for all those ugly warts.

Papillomaviridae Structure and Transmission

The curses, or viruses of this family, are small, icosahedral in shape and non-enveloped. Their genome is double-stranded DNA and circular in shape. But, just because these viruses are small, that doesn't mean they don't cause big problems.

The way the witch typically transmits these viruses to unsuspecting victims is through direct contact. She essentially needs to get off her broom, come up to you and touch her infected skin or mucous membranes to yours. By the way, the mucous membranes include areas like the inside of the mouth, the lips and certain places in the genital areas. In fact, sexual intercourse is a very common way of transmitting the most important virus of this family, and it is therefore the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.

Human Papillomavirus

The most important curse the witch managed to brew up in her cauldron is something she called the human papillomavirus. This is a virus that may cause the formation of papillomas and deadly malignant tumors. As the witch comes up to touch and therefore curse, or infect you with this virus, you'll notice that she has a benign tumor of stratified epithelial tissue found on her skin or mucous membranes called a papilloma. A common or colloquial term for a papilloma is something you've certainly heard of: a wart.

The epithelium, or epithelial layer, that these warts are found on is the layer of tissue that lines the outer surface of your body, your skin and mucous membranes, as well as hollow organs, like the stomach or uterus and your body's glands. However, the virus itself infects the basal, or bottom most portion of the epithelium, when the epithelium is traumatized by something like a cut or micro-abrasion.

When the wicked witch touches any area of her skin or mucous membranes that have a papilloma to any area of your damaged skin, you may get infected. But, our witch is really evil, to the point that she can get you infected even without a visible wart. That is because infection with HPV, the human papilloma virus, may occur by having contact with people showing no signs of the disease. The witch can touch you with clean looking hands, and you may still get infected.

HPV Associated Diseases

One troubling fact about HPV is that is has been associated with some deadly diseases, notably cervical cancer. This is a malignant tumor of the cervix that is almost always caused in part by the human papillomavirus. Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women, right after breast cancer.

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