Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ancient origin of hepatitis B viruses revealed by DNA fossils in bird genomes

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 M√ľnster, this virus is 63 million years older than originally thought, a finding that may help improve human health outcomes.

Hepatitis 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.

Read more....

No comments:

Post a Comment