A benign virus normally found in the skin can lead to a type of rare, lethal skin cancer. Specifically, infection by the Merkel cell polyomavirus can lead to Merkel cell carcinoma in immune-compromised individuals. Researchers have now identified a type of skin cell as the target of the virus in humans. This study, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, establishes a new way to investigate this type of oncogenic viral infection and identifies a potential therapeutic agent against Merkel cell polyomavirus infection.

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