Your viruses could reveal your history, and more

New York, April 3 (IANS) US researchers have identified DNA of two distinct strains of the virus that causes cold sores and fever blisters within an individual, which can unravel the history of a person.

The findings revealed that most people harbour HSV-1 virus, also known as oral herpes, frequently as a strain acquired from their mothers shortly after birth and carried for the rest of their lives.

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Virology.

Using the technique similar to genetic fingerprinting, HSV-1 could help flesh out a person’s life story, adding an extra layer of genetic information not provided by our genomes alone.

The results could help forensic scientists to trace a person’s history as well as understand how a patient’s viruses influences the course of disease.

“Deep sequencing of viruses like HSV-1 will provide a better view of the viral genetic diversity that individuals harbour, and will provide valuable information about how that influences the course of disease,” said lead researcher Moriah L. Szpara, assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University in US.

The new discovery was made with the help of a volunteer from US.

The study revealed that one strain of the HSV-1 virus harboured by this individual is of a European/North American variety and the other is an Asian variety — likely acquired during the volunteer’s military service in the Korean War in the 1950s.

Earlier research has demonstrated that the geographical origin of HSV-1 can be predicted and also implied that a personal strain of HSV-1 can reflect a person’s origin.

“We’re working on better ways to sequence viral genomes from ever-smaller amounts of starting material, to allow identification and comparison of samples from diverse sources,” Szpara added.

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