The hepatitis B virus originally infected birds back when the dinosaurs
still roamed the planet, according to a newly published study of genomic
bird DNA, a finding that may help improve human health outcomes.
As the old adage goes; "One man's trash is another man's treasure":
what has often been described as "junk DNA" has revealed a hidden gem.
Not only can we find the ancient ancestor of the human hepatitis B virus nestled in songbird genomes, but according to research published recently by a team of scientists at the University of Münster, this virus is 63 million years older than originally thought, a finding that may help improve human health outcomes.
B virus (HBV) is one of the most common human viral infections in the
world. This virus specifically infects the liver cells of many primates
(including humans), causing severe flu-like symptoms. Although most
people fully recover, roughly 5 percent remain infected throughout their
lives; acting as carriers who can infect others whilst also suffering a
variety of serious liver diseases, including cancer. In fact, HBV is
second only to tobacco amongst known human carcinogens, causing up to
eighty percent of all hepatocellular carcinomas worldwide.
Labels: epidemiology, history, Research and Discoveries