Tags: ancient | alien | viruses | in human | dna | HEMO

Scientists Find Ancient Viruses in Human DNA

Image: Scientists Find Ancient Viruses in Human DNA
A digital representation of the human genome August 15, 2001 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Each color represents one the four chemical compenents of DNA. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 04 Oct 2017 08:45 PM

An army of ancient viruses buried in our DNA is affecting human health in a variety of unexpected ways, The New York Times reported.

A protein dubbed HEMO is made by a fetus and the placenta, but the gene originally came from a virus that infected mammals more than 100 million years ago, according to a study of “Roles of Endogenous Retroviruses in Early Life Events,” the Times reported.

But it’s not the only protein with an alien origin.

According to the Times, our DNA contains roughly 100,000 pieces of viral DNA. Altogether, they make up about 8 percent of the human genome — and scientists are just beginning to figure out how the viral DNA affects us, the Times reported.

For example, some ancient viruses may be protecting us from disease, while others may be raising our risks for cancer, among other conditions, the Times reported.

“It’s not an either-or — are these things good or bad? It’s a lot more complicated than that,” says Dr. Aris Katzourakis, a virologist from the University of Oxford, the Times reported. “We’re barely at the beginning of this research.”

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An army of ancient viruses buried in our DNA is affecting human health in a variety of unexpected ways, The New York Times reported.A protein dubbed HEMO is made by a fetus and the placenta, but the gene originally came from a virus that infected mammals more than 100...
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Wednesday, 04 Oct 2017 08:45 PM
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