12 January 2010

This is Going Viral

Hey! Did you know that humans are, it appears, part virus? (The next thing you will tell me is that some sea slugs are part plant and part animal. What a world!)

No, it's true. Recent research has discovered small bits of human DNA that originated as virus DNA. These bits of DNA are not enough to make an active virus, and scientists think humans evolved ways to use partial virus traits to our own advantage.

This is all cool and everything, but they are also talking about trying to recreate these paleo viruses in the lab! I'm not sure that is such a good idea. I was squeamish when researchers dug up the bodies of people who died from the 1918 influenza to study that virus. I mean, do we really want a lethal pathogen floating around -- even if only in a secure lab? I don't think so.

You can read more about these ancient viruses here.

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