A cutting-edge research conducted by the universities of Cambridge and Copenhagen uncovered the very earliest proof of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in ancient Bronze Age remnants found in cemeteries throughout both Asia and Europe.
The relevance for the science of this new research has been portrayed as “truly remarkable” and measured with the finding of the first fossils. Additionally, the research also indicates that viruses can also go extinct.
The findings of this new investigation, which has been carried out by a team of experts from the Center for Pathogenic Evolution within the University of Cambridge and the GeoGenetics Center of the University of Copenhagen, were based on genetic analysis of some of the ancient remnants that have been sampled.
Scientists found hepatitis B virus in a sample of about 4,500-year-old
The discoveries, which have been reported in the journal Nature and posted on the University of Cambridge’s website, introduce a new understanding of the background and the development of Hepatitis B Virus. Also, the genetic composition of the strain that has been sampled might improve the vaccines against the virus.
Previously, the first human viruses samples to be discovered, before this study, have been around 450-year-old.
Now, researchers have collected skeletal tissue samples in both Asia and Europe, dating between the Bronze Age and the Medieval period. They have collected large amounts of the hepatitis B virus from 12 of the studied skeletons for more in-depth analysis.
The oldest sample that has been found was about 4,500-year-old.
The historical background of hepatitis B virus has already been unraveled for several decades now. However, this recent research changes the scientific comprehension of HBV and reveals that it has been infecting humans since the Bronze Age. Additionally, the scientists were also capable of demonstrating that retrieval of viral DNA sequences from specimens of ancient humans is achievable, thus resulting in broader scientific applications, the researchers agree.