For many years, the University of Birmingham has been at the leading edge of research on Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and its link to certain cancers. This research has led to the development of a potential new treatment for EBV cancers - a therapeutic vaccine to alert the immune system of patients with an EBV-related cancer to attack the cancer cells. The vaccine could help the 200,000 people diagnosed with an EBV-related cancer each year.

Fifty years ago, a new virus - Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) - was discovered. Most of us have been infected with EBV - it’s a natural ‘passenger’ that we carry within us for life. Although the vast majority of people experience no long-term ill effects from EBV, this virus is connected to 200,000 cases of cancer each year.

Working with Cancer Research UK, the Birmingham research team (Prof Alan Rickinson, Dr Neil Steven and Dr Graham Taylor; all in the School of Cancer Sciences) have already tested the vaccine in a small number of patients with an EBV-related head and neck cancer. It is currently being tested in larger clinical trials worldwide.

The vaccine is now at a key point in the process to turn it into a medicine. The researchers hope to do this sooner by getting additional scientific data from the trials by using the very latest ‘cutting edge’ techniques and are currently raising funds with Cancer Research UK to do this. The story of ‘Agent-EBV’ is told in a short animation. 

However the researchers need to reach their £40,000 target within just one month! Please share the information and donation page and the story of #AgentEBV on Facebook and Twitter, and with friends and colleagues, to help us reach our goal.

  • Read more about EBV and cancer research