health day reporter
THURSDAY, July 28, 2022 (HealthDay News) — While the herpes virus that causes cold sores is common today, scientists have struggled to find traces of it in ancient remains.
Now, researchers report that they have discovered and sequenced the genomes of four ancient herpesviruses for the first time.
What did they find?
It appears that most cases of herpes in ancient times may have been transmitted ‘vertically’, from infected mothers to newborns, rather than through kissing, a practice that first emerged in South Asia and may have later migrated to Europe.
“The world has witnessed rapid mutation of COVID-19 over weeks and months. Viruses like herpes evolve on a much grander time scale,” said co-senior study author Charlotte, University of Cambridge, UK Dr. Holdcroft explained.
“Facial herpes hides in the host for life and is only transmitted through oral contact, so mutations occur slowly over centuries and millennia. We need to conduct in-depth investigations to understand how DNA viruses like this evolved, “Holdcroft told a Cambridge news conference. “Previously, genetic data for herpes only went back to 1925.”
This herpes simplex virusThe -1 (HSV-1) strain, the modern-day facial herpes virus that infects 3.7 billion people worldwide, first emerged about 5,000 years ago, when the Bronze Age migrated from the steppe steppe of Eurasia to Europe, the researchers said. But herpes has a history that goes back millions of years, and it can infect a variety of species.
“We screened ancient DNA samples from around 3,000 archaeological finds and found only four herpesviruses,” said co-lead study author Dr Meriam Guellil from the Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia.
The researchers extracted viral DNA from the roots of the teeth of infected individuals.Herpes flares frequently mouth Infection and these ancient corpses included two people with gum disease and a smoker.
These people lived at different times in a thousand years. Among them was an adult male excavated in Russia’s Ural mountains. He lived in the Iron Age about 1500 years ago.
Two other samples were found near Cambridge. They are women from an early Anglo-Saxon cemetery a few miles south of the city, dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries. The other is a young adult male of the late 14th century. He was buried in the courtyard of the Medieval Cambridge Mercy Hospital and suffered what the researchers described as a “appalling” tooth abscess.
The fourth sample came from a young adult male excavated in the Netherlands. They were able to speculate that he was an avid clay pipe smoker, most likely slaughtered on the banks of the Rhine in 1672 when the French raided his village.
“By comparing ancient DNA with herpes samples from the 20th century, we were able to analyse the differences and estimate the mutation rate and thus the timeline of viral evolution,” said study co-lead author Dr Lucy van Dorp of the University of London Genetics Research Institute.
According to co-senior study author Christiana Scheib, Ph.D., “Every primate has some form of herpes, so we think it’s been with us since our own species left Africa.” Scheib is a university student Research Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge Ph.D., Head of the Ancient DNA Laboratory at the University of Tartu.
“However, something happened about 5,000 years ago that allowed one herpes virus to outpace all others, which may have led to increased transmission, which could be related to kissing,” Scheib noted.
The World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the global population under the age of 50 currently carry HSV-1.While it’s mostly uncomfortable, it can be dangerous in combination septicemia or COVID-19.
“Only genetic samples spanning hundreds or even thousands of years will allow us to understand how DNA viruses such as herpes and monkeypox and our own immune systems adapt to each other,” Houldcroft said.
The research team hopes to investigate earlier infections. “Neanderthal herpes is the next mountain I’m going to climb,” Scheib said.
The findings were published in the July 27 issue of the journal scientific progress .
The World Health Organization has more information on herpes.
Source: University of Cambridge, press release, 27 July 2022