Scientists discovered a virus related to the well known HIV virus that has been haunting a wide range of animals since ancient times in history.

Viruses such as the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and also the human T-cell leukemia virus are considered to be called ‘Retroviruses’ taking into consideration that they have been hidden or, let’s say, infecting our world for millions of years now.

Scientists believe that the ERC-Fc viruses took such wide territory that Antarctica and Australia were the only places safe from this viral menace, and it may have crossed species boundaries countless times. Image: The Vaccine Reaction

These particular viruses belong to a group called ERV-Fc (Endogenous retrovirus F-type c). According to a report from eLIFE, it is believed that these retroviruses have been infecting the life of carnivores, primates and rodents alike millions of years ago.

The study behind ERC-Fc viruses

Researchers from Boston College conducted this study, who had their work cut out for them finding evidence of this virus, since viruses are not exactly ‘boned’ they do not leave any fossil behind, therefore, it is not an easy task to know how they were originated and how they have evolved throughout the time.

Viruses have been surrounding us for billions of years, they are part of our body and our nature, it is the reason why these ancient almost-invisible friends play such an important role in the evolution of all organisms from bacteria to humans.

Professor of Biology at Boston College said in the statement. “Unfortunately, viruses do not leave fossils behind, meaning we know very little about how they originate and evolve. Over the course of millions of years, however, viral genetic sequences accumulate in the DNA genomes of living organisms, including humans, and can serve as molecular ‘fossils’ for exploring the natural history of viruses and their hosts.”

Researchers managed to find a remnant of one of these viruses, and discovered when and where they would have been found throughout time, they also found out how these viruses adapted themselves to live within mammals. They searched through mammalian genome databases for the ERV-Fc virus, and then proceeded to compare the sequences, as the last step they proceeded to reconstruct the proteins sequence representing the ERV-Fc virus in that species, this process is definitely a valuable tool to discover and study the ancient world.

Lead author William E. Diehl from the University of Massachusetts considered this as a new challenge to endure as they will have to use the ancient viral sequences to look back in time, which may prove insightful for predicting the long-term consequences of newly emerging viral infections

Source: Tech Times