Another success bagged in by the scientist fraternity. Oldest viral genomes of the Hepatitis B virus recovered by the scientists are now studied further. The scientists found that the deadly viruses are the natives of Europe for past seven thousand years.
What is Hepatitis B virus?
Hepatitis B virus is also known as the HBV belongs to the category of most widespread human pathogens. The HBV is responsible for the liver disease. If you look at the statistics, nearly three hundred and fifty million people are infected with the HBV. Every year approximately six million people lose their lives due to high HBV infection.
Until now, the history and evolutionary features of the HBV are still unclear.
The current research study led to the recovery of ancient viral deoxyribonucleic acid from the skeleton. Also, the research team also succeeded in reconstructing the genomes of the three HBV strains.
The ancient virus detected resemble their modern counterparts. The old strains recovered illustrated a distinct lineage. This lineage has likely gone extinct.
In addition to its modern counterparts, the ancient HBV are also closely related to the chimpanzee and the gorilla viruses. The lead author of the study is Ben Krause-Kyora. Ben hails from the Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History and Kiel University.
The study has been published in the journal eLife. The team has analyzed teeth of the fifty-three skeletons. These teeth were excavated from Neolithic and medieval sites of Germany.
The remains excavated dates back to the period from 5000 BC to 1200 AD. For this study, the research team has screened all the samples of the viral pathogens. The ancient HBV was detected in three of the individual samples.
Out of the three samples, two belonged to the Neolithic period, and one belongs to the medieval period. The HBV genome recovered from the Neolithic remains are by far the oldest viral genome traced till date.
In lieu of the Neolithic viral genomes, the medieval HBV genome more likely resembles the modern counterparts. However, it belongs to a different lineage.