Viral DNA from ancient times is helping people today fight off infections, according to a new study.
Scientists have long known that our genomes are littered with the remains of viruses. Now, it seems that this viral DNA may be providing a benefit: protection against new infections.
In the new study, published in the journal Nature, researchers analyzed the genomes of more than 400 people from around the world. They found that those with more viral DNA in their genomes were more likely to be resistant to new infections.
This resistance was especially strong against viruses from the same family as the ancient virus. That suggests that the ancient viral DNA is providing a sort of “immunity” against these infections.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that ancient viruses have played an important role in human evolution. They may even help explain why some people are more resistant to certain diseases than others.
The study also has implications for the development of new vaccines. The researchers say their findings suggest that it may be possible to create vaccines that target specific viral families. That could lead to more effective vaccines against a variety of diseases.
A new study has found that ancient viral DNA in the human genome may help protect against modern infections.
The study, published in the journal Science, looked at the genomes of over 1,000 people from around the world. They found that there were fragments of viral DNA in the human genome that were up to eight million years old.
This ancient DNA is known as endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). ERVs are created when viruses insert their genetic material into the DNA of a host cell. This can happen when a virus infects a fertilized egg, or early in development when cells are dividing rapidly.
ERVs make up around eight percent of the human genome. They are thought to play a role in immunity and development.
The new study found that people with ERVs from ancient viruses were less likely to be infected with modern viruses, such as HIV, HPV, and influenza.
There are many different ERVs in the human genome, and it is not clear why some offer protection against modern viruses while others do not. The researchers say more studies are needed to understand how these ancient viruses can help protect us from modern diseases.