Epstein-Barr virus: 40 years on

Lawrence Young, Alan Rickinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1503 Citations (Scopus)


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was discovered 40 years ago from examining electron micrographs of cells cultured from Burkitt's lymphoma, a childhood tumour that is common in sub-Saharan Africa, where its unusual geographical distribution - which matches that of holoendemic malaria -indicated a viral aetiology. However, far from showing a restricted distribution, EBV - a gamma-herpesvirus - was found to be widespread in all human populations and to persist in the vast majority of individuals as a lifelong, asymptomatic infection of the B-lymphocyte pool. Despite such ubiquity, the link between EBV and 'endemic' Burkitt's lymphoma proved consistent and became the first of an unexpectedly wide range of associations discovered between this virus and tumours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-768
Number of pages12
JournalNature Reviews Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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