Scientists reported identifying the genes a virus apparently uses to cause a deadly type of leukemia, a finding that should lead to new ways to fight the disease and perhaps other forms of cancer.

An international team of researchers said Sunday it had demonstrated the so-called "X region" of the genetic material in a virus known as HTLV-1 is the device that enables the virus to cause adult T-cell leukemia."We're very pleased. What we've shown is this is the piece for sure," said Dr. William Haseltine of Harvard Medical School, who headed the research.

Although the virus and disease are relatively rare in the United States, the virus is believed to be spreading, mostly among U.S. intravenous drug users.