Your DNA is less human than scientists previously thought, finds a new study. No less, 19 new pieces of non-human DNA have been found. The research findings are based on the assessment of 2,500 people.
Study researchers from Tufts University and the University of Michigan Medical School have mentioned that one stretch of newfound DNA found in around 50 of the total studied has an intact, full genetic composition of a complete virus. For now, it is not known whether or not it is able to replicate. But as per scientists, it may affect the humans who carry it.
The research findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has affirmed that the new pieces of non-human DNA were left by viruses that first infected human ancestors hundreds of thousands of years ago.
The viral fragments were identified by comparing the genomes to a ‘reference’ human genome. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are ancient viruses that have succeeded in deposition DNA-based copies of their RNA genetic material into the genomes of our ancestors.
The researchers were also able to confirm the presence of 17 viral fragments that previously identified by scientists. For now, it is not known whether the strand can replicate. Study’s co-author Zachary H. Williams from Tuft’s Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, said, “Many studies have tried to link these endogenous viral elements to cancer and other diseases, but a major difficulty has been that we haven’t actually found all of them yet”.
Study’s co-author Julia Wildschutte termed it to be a thrilling discovery. Julia said that it will open many doors to research. Julia mentioned that they will need to screen a large number of people, as a lot of the interesting elements are only found in a small percentage of people.