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Scientists discover ancient herpes in 50,000-year-old Neanderthal bones found in a Russian cave…and want to bring the virus back to life

By Nikki, Senior Science Reporter for Dailymail.Com

15:29 May 14, 2024, updated 15:36 May 14, 2024

The oldest human viruses, including herpes, have been discovered in 50,000-year-old Neanderthal bones – and experts could soon recreate them.

Researchers at the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil have identified remnants of herpesviruses, which cause cold sores, sexually transmitted papillomavirus and adenovirus, also known as the common cold, in the DNA of two Neanderthals found in Russian cave.

Previous theories suggested that Neanderthals may have gone extinct due to viruses and the latest study could be the first to provide evidence for this idea.

The team now hopes to synthesize the viruses and infect human cells in the lab to see how they compare to their modern counterparts.

Researchers have identified remnants of herpesviruses, papillomaviruses and adenoviruses in the DNA of Neanderthals who lived 50,000 years ago, making them the oldest human virus discovered.

“These Jurassic Park-like viruses could then be studied for their reproductive and pathogenic characteristics and compared to their current counterparts,” Marcelo Briones, the study’s lead author, told NewScientist.

“I am skeptical that this can be achieved given the lack of complete understanding of how the DNA of viruses is damaged and how to reconstruct the recovered pieces into a complete viral genome,” he said. he adds.

“Also, host-virus interaction, especially in a completely different environment, is something to consider.”

The team discovered the remains of Neanderthals in the Chagyrskaya cave in Siberia in the Altai Mountains, which they used to sequence the genomic data of ancient beings.

The results determined that the virus remains were not acquired from possible predators feeding on Neanderthals or modern humans who could have handled the bones.

Adenovirus causes cold symptoms in modern humans and can cause infections of the tonsils, adenoids, and other mucosal tissues, as well as developing genital warts and cancer from the sexually transmitted papillomavirus.

Researchers believe herpes viruses (pictured) “may have been a major cause of the Neanderthal extinction” but need to carry out further testing to confirm the findings.

The study states that researchers believe that “herpes viruses, in particular, may have been a major cause of the Neanderthal extinction” but that they need to conduct additional tests to confirm these results.

“Taken together, our data indicate that these viruses could represent viruses that actually infected Neanderthals,” Briones said.

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Briones said the results were not surprising, given that humans today are infected with about 10 diseases during their lifetime.

The remains of Neanderthals were first discovered in 2022 among nine others who all shared DNA, meaning they were related.

A girl and her father were among the remains and he shared mitochondrial DNA with two men, revealing they shared a female ancestor, possibly the same grandmother.

There were signs that the ages ranged from children and adolescents to adults and it was believed that they all died at the same time, but the researchers did not know how, adding that there were no signs burial.

Researchers now hope that their new discovery of the DNA of these three serious diseases could finally shed light on what led to the death of Neanderthals and their extinction.

News Source : www.dailymail.co.uk
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