Human endogenous retroviruses, abbreviated HERVs, have persisted for millions of years to infect the human genome. Approximately 8% of the genome is comprised of HERVs, the majority of which are nonfunctional due to deactivated mutations or epigenetic control factors. There is a correlation between retroviruses and cancerous tumors, including breast and ovarian cancer, renal cancer, and melanoma.
What Are Retroviruses?
Retroviruses are a subcategory of viruses that are characterized by their unique ability to assimilate their genome into the DNA of host cells. These double-stranded viruses, whose genetic blueprint is carried in the form of RNA, use reverse transcriptase enzymes to transcribe their RNA to DNA.
Normal cellular transcriptase transcribes DNA into RNA, as is the case with the more familiar DNA viruses. This transcription of DNA to RNA results in the manufacture of viral proteins. Reverse transcription allows retroviral genetic material to be permanently incorporated into the genomic DNA of an infected host cell via a viral integrase enzyme. Retroviruses are then able to replicate by utilizing the cellular machinery of the host.
Retroviruses and Epigenetics
HERVs can potentially cause chronic diseases that are autoimmune in nature, along with certain types of cancer, and do so through a variety of mechanisms. The expression of HERV proteins have been identified in malignant tissues. Interestingly, retrovirus transcription is dependent on mechanisms related to epigenetics, which is the study of how genes are modified and expressed due to structural changes in DNA, excluding alterations in the genetic code itself. Genes can be turned on or off when DNA is externally modified.
Some retroviruses cause infectious disease, with some causing cancer in both humans and animals. HIV-1 is an example of a retrovirus that causes the devastating infectious disease we know as AIDS. Retroviruses are classified as either class 1 or II based on whether their sequencing is homologous to mammalian type C or type B and D retroviruses. Subdivisions of retroviruses include Beta retroviruses: HERV-K, and Gamma retroviruses: HERV-H and HERV-W.
Listen to the brilliant virologist Judy Mikovits talk about the connection between retroviruses and cancer:
Retroviruses and Oncogenesis
Oncogenes are genes that can potentially cause cancer. They are commonly mutated or highly expressed in tumor cells. Oncogenes that have become activated can curtail apoptosis, a protective process of programmed cell death. Interruption of this process allows diseased cells, which should have been eliminated, to survive and proliferate.
Oncogenes originate as proto-oncogenes, which are normal genes involved in cellular growth and proliferation. However, if these genes mutate, they can become upregulated and permanently activated, predisposing cells to malignancy. Multiple oncogenes, operating in conjunction with mutated genes and tumor suppressor genes, act in concert to cause cancer. Dozens of these genes have been identified in human cancers over the last 50 years, with many cancer drugs targeting the proteins that oncogenes encode.
Many oncogenes that cause cancer were initially recognized in retroviruses. Oncogenesis, also called carcinogenesis, is a process in which normal cells turn malignant, resulting in tumor formation. Retroviruses cause oncogenesis through several mechanisms, one of which is the encoding of oncogenic proteins that interact with transcription factors to activate immunosuppressive pathways. This immunosuppressive response can then induce the formation and spread of cancer.
The Virulence Factor
Scientists have identified an inhibitory host-immune response called “the virulence factor,” a sequence of amino acids within the envelope protein of the virus, which enables it to spread and exert its pathogenic effect. Retroviruses may persist and thrive in their hosts due to their ability to evade the immune system. This ability is driven by envelope proteins, which allow viral proteins to be fused within the cell membrane of the target, with subsequent penetration into the cell.
A secondary role of envelope proteins within a virus, that further enable propagation, is the immunosuppressive effect they have on the adaptive and innate immune responses. Researchers have introduced targeted mutations into envelope proteins in the hope of suppressing their ability to impede immune function, resulting in antibody production and antiviral immunity within the cell. This pivotal research will likely factor into the development of future vaccines.
People with compromised immune vigilance systems against viruses have an increased risk of developing cancer, which may be due to HERV expression that is uncontrolled. HERV research has identified 12 host genes that are oncogenic.
Oncogenic retroviruses are a category of viruses that cause certain types of cancer and other abnormalities. Retroviruses are unique in that they are composed of single-strands of RNA. They replicate by forming double strands of DNA, which are then integrated into the genome of the host cell. The reverse transcriptase enzyme referred to above is fundamental in retrovirus replication.
Once the virus is assimilated into the host cell, proteins that transform normal cells into malignant cells are produced. Promoter and enhancer sequences contained within the retroviral genome are thought to trigger cell division, while activating adjacent host genes.
The expression of viral proteins may contribute to a process called transactivation, which is the activation of genes within the host itself. Furthermore, oncogenes contained within the viral genome may transform cells directly once they are incorporated into the genome of the host cell.
Retrovirus Infection Life Cycle
The following sequential steps outline how a retrovirus infects a host by utilizing the host cell’s machinery for their own propagation:
1. Entry into host cells via interaction with the host cell’s surface molecules. Following interaction, the cell membranes of the host and the virus fuse together, allowing the virion core delivery into the host cell’s cytoplasm.
2. Reverse transcription: Once the virion core is within the cytoplasm, the reverse transcriptase enzyme initiates reverse transcription, followed by the production of minus-strand DNA, and the synthesis of double-strand proviral DNA.
3. Integration: The nuclear membrane is broken down to allow the double-strand proviral DNA to enter the nucleus of the host cell, afterwhich a single copy of the proviral DNA is integrated into the chromosomal DNA of the host via a process controlled by integrase. Retrovrial integrases are specialized recombinases (enzymes that control gene expression) which catalyze the insertion of viral DNA into the DNA of the host cell, enabling propagation.
4. Expression of viral genes: A promoter directs transcription. RNA is cleaved and packaged into complete virion particles, which consist of an external protein shell, and an inner nucleic acid core.
5. Production of viral particles: Full-length RNA is packaged into virion particles, reverse transcriptase and host tRNA are incorporated into virus particles, resulting in these particles budding from the surface of the cell.
Source: Science Direct
Types Of Retroviruses
Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is implicated in a type of human cancer called adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). This same retrovirus can also cause HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), a neurodegenerative condition. XMRV is another oncogenic retroviruses associated with leukemia and prostate cancer.
HTLV-2, is a similar virus that causes mild neurological disorders. Although, millions of people worldwide are infected with HTLV retroviruses, relatively few go on to develop ATL or HAM/TSP. HTLV-1 was discovered and isolated in 1979 by Robert C. Gallo, an American virologist.
Before this time, it was known that retroviruses caused different types of leukemia and lymphoma, along with solid tumors in animals, but it wasn’t until 1979 that the first human oncogenic retrovirus was discovered. HIV, the retrovirus that causes AIDS was isolated soon thereafter in 1983.
How Infection Occurs
Retroviral infections can be acquired through physical contact, exposure to infected blood, via inhalation, or passed from mother to child during pregnancy. Drivers of chronic illness, such as chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and microbial infections are known triggers that can activate retroviruses already present in one’s own DNA. Oral cavitations and heavy metals are additional triggers. HERVs can also be acquired through vaccines, which contain animal-based retroviruses. It is likely that retroviruses are activated by more than one trigger.
For instance, the expression of the HERV-K envelope gene can be induced by the Epstein Barr virus. The transactivation of MSRV, the Multiple Sclerosis retrovirus, can also be induced by Epstein Barr. Herpes simplex type-2 can activate viruses in the HERV-W family, and are implicated in the activation of retroviruses associated with autoimmune diseases (Sjogren’s disease, SLE, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis), autism, schizophrenia, and cancer.
Retroviruses cause neurological diseases through a variety of mechanisms:
- Directly, by infecting immune cells that are trafficked to the brain
- Indirectly, by increasing chemokines and proinflammatory cytokines
- Indirectly, through an effect called the “bystander effect,” which is a chronic retroviral replication of immune system cells.
Electromagnetic radiation, emitted from cell phones and WiFi, has a significantly negative impact on many of the protective proteins within the body. Food-based toxins, such as glyphosate, along with air-borne pollutants, including aluminum are also damaging to critical proteins.
Retroviruses and Chronic Illness
The role that retroviruses play in chronic illness is disputed. However, Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD, has seen significant improvements in his patients with chronic illness when strategies that address retroviruses are included in the treatment protocol.
The list of diseases that are potentially caused by activated retroviruses is extensive. These include central-nervous system illnesses, such as autism, Parkinson’s, ALS, MS, ME/CFS, and Gulf War syndrome. Retroviruses may be the cause of, or a contributing factor, in the development of autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, lupus, polymyositis, Bechet’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and primary biliary cirrhosis, and conditions like mast cell activation and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Retroviruses are associated with certain types of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, hairy cell leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, and cancers of the prostate, breast, ovaries, lungs, kidneys, bladder, and colon. Other diseases, including Lyme disease, ADHD, asthma, most childhood illnesses, and mold illness have responded favorably to treatments that address retroviruses, as have conditions like insomnia and brain fog.
Natural Anti-Viral Compounds
Dr. Klinghardt has noted that treatment outcomes are more effective when retroviruses are addressed in the early stages of chronic illness. Patients become less symptomatic, in terms of parasitic infections, heavy metal toxicity, and silent inflammation, while responding better to interventions.
Since plants have been exposed to retroviruses for millions of year, they have developed powerful adaptogenic compounds that can be used to eradicate HERVs. Below are four plant-based products that have anti-retroviral properties:
- Cistus incanus: A Mediterranean plant that is a potent source of polyphenols and antioxidants that support immune function, dissolves biofilms, supports the microbiome, and prevents infections caused by human immunodeficiency viruses. It also impedes the adherence of viral proteins to cells.
- Broccoli sprout extract powder: Sulforaphane, a compound in broccoli, silences the activity of retroviruses, quells inflammation in the brain, and has shown success in cases of autism. You can sprout broccoli yourself at home. They do need to be chewed thoroughly in order to be converted to sulphoraphane. The dosage is one to two tablespoons per day.
- St. John’s Wort: A leafy herb that has impressive ant-viral activity, and prevents viruses from fusing to host cell membranes.
- Scutalaria root (Scullcap root): Scutalaria root is cytotoxic to human malignancies, is hepatic protective, and has been shown to have both antiviral and antibacterial properties. It inhibits the HIV-1 integrase and is one of the leading compounds used to prevent HIV infections.
- Chlorella: Promotes the release of glyphosate and heavy metals like mercury and aluminum.
- Reishi Mushrooms: The Ganoderma lucidum or Reishi mushroom contains polysaccharides, antioxidants, and triterpenoids that boost immunity, reduce inflammation, inhibit the progression of the retrovirus HIV-1, and prevents tumor growth by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting angiogenesis. Read my post below to learn how to make Reishi tea in a crockpot using whole mushrooms.
[Read More: The Best Medicinal Mushrooms For Cancer]
Plant compounds are used in conjunction with EMR protection, anti-microbial protocols, and heavy metal and mold detoxification. It’s paramount that WiFi and cell phones be turned off at night as electromagnetic radiation inhibits detoxification. Retroviruses can be activated by faulty detoxification so this is not an insignificant matter.
Although, there are no specific tests to date for individual retroviruses, elevated levels (above 0.6-0.7) of Nagalase are indicative of viral overload. You can access direct-to-consumer lab testing here.
Retroviruses play a role in the development of chronic disease, including cancer. Contributers to illness, namely inflammation, infections, and oxidative stress are known retroviral activators. Likewise, these same contributers are caused by retroviruses. Environmental factors, such as GMOs, mold, and EMFs, are also key factors in retroviral activation. Significant improvements in treatment outcomes are seen when retroviral activity is addressed. Retroviruses affect a small percentage of the population, yet could be the missing link in some people with chronic disease.
Have you heard of retroviruses? Let me know in the comments:)
(1) NCBI: Retroviruses and Cancer
(2) NCBI: Human endogenous retroviruses and cancer
(3) Live Science: Epigenetics: Definition & Examples
(4) nature.com: Oncogenesis
(5) NCBI: Human Retroviruses
(6) Cancer.org: Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
(7) Science Daily: ‘Secret weapon’ of retroviruses that cause cancer
(8) Oxford Academic: Clinical Infectious Diseases
(9) cancer network: Retrovirus-Associated Malignancies
(10) Science Direct: Virus Vectors for use in the Central Nervous System
(11) NCBI: RETROVIRAL INTEGRASE: THEN AND NOW
(12) IHCAN Special Report: The role of retroviruses in chronic illness – a clinician’s perspective
(13) NCBI: Virulence: Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome
(14) NCBI: Potent in vitro antiviral activity of Cistus incanus extract against HIV and Filoviruses targets viral envelope proteins
(15) National Library of Medicine: Cistus Incanus (CYSTUS052) for Treating Patients With Infection of the Upper Respiratory Tract. A Prospective, Randomised, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study
(16) NCBI: Effect of Broccoli Sprouts and Live Attenuated Influenza Virus on Peripheral Blood Natural Killer Cells: A Randomized, Double-Blind Study
(17) Klinghardt Institute: Dr. Klinghardt Retroviral Protocol PDF
(18) NCBI: Medical Attributes of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
(19) NCBI: Antitumour, Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Antiacetylcholinesterase Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum Terpenoids and Polysaccharides: A Review
(20) NCBI: Scutellaria baicalensis, the golden herb from the garden of Chinese medicinal plants
Disclaimer: This article is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice.