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Amplification of Merkel Cell Polyomavirus From Skin Swab Specimens

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Trial Information

Amplification of Merkel Cell Polyomavirus From Skin Swab Specimens

Polyomaviruses are a class of DNA-based viruses that infect vertebrates, including humans. A
majority of humans are chronically infected with multiple polyomavirus types. In
immunocompetent subjects, chronic polyomavirus infection is generally harmless. A
recently-discovered virus called Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is believed to chronically
infect the skin of a substantial fraction of adult subjects. It has recently been shown that
MCV DNA can be amplified from skin swab specimens using PCR methods. The goal of our study
is to recover full-length (5.5 kb) MCV genomes from skin swab specimens taken from healthy
laboratory volunteers. We will recombine any recovered MCV genomes and attempt to propagate
them in cell culture. If successful, the work would provide the first laboratory culture
model for MCV replication. The recombinant DNA work has received approval from the NIH
Institutional Biosafety Committee

Our study population would be drawn from roughly two dozen co-workers in the Lab of Cellular
Oncology's Building 37 Sections. LCO co-workers are an appealing study population because
they are generally familiar with the biology of MCV. Candidate study participants will be
reminded that, given the high prevalence of asymptomatic MCV infection among healthy adults,
the detection of MCV DNA in skin swabs clearly cannot be construed as having any diagnostic,
clinical or social significance.

Subjects who agree to participate in the study will wipe a cotton swab across their forehead
and eyebrows. Study subjects will break off the end of the swab into a microcentrifuge tube.
To avoid study participation during federal work hours, the specimen collection will be
performed prior to or after the study subject's work shift. Each sample will be assigned a
letter code. A key for the letter code will exist only in Dr. Buck's secure NCI server

Given the non-invasive nature of the sampling and the clear lack of potential harm arising
from study participation, the proposal appears to be eligible for expedited review by the
IRB's Special Studies section.

Inclusion Criteria

- Study participants will be drawn from LCO co-workers in Building 37 Rooms 4106-4134.
LCO members will be invited to participate without regard to gender, race, sexual
orientation, or ethnic background.

Type of Study:


Study Design:



United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

August 2009

Completion Date:

May 2010

Related Keywords:

  • Polyomavirus
  • Skin Swab
  • Self-Sample



National Cancer Institute (NCI), 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland  20892