When Prof Harald zur Hausen published an academic paper in 1972 suggesting that the human papilloma virus (HPV) played an important role in the genesis of cervical cancer, it received a chilly reception in medical circles.
His findings also attracted a great deal of criticism from those scientists who believed that the herpes simplex virus was the cause of this cruel and often fatal carcinoma.
But the German virologist stuck to his guns. Back in the mid-1960s he had participated in a study in the United States into a virus called Epstein-Barr which was known to induce changes in human chromosomes.
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