Human immunity to ‘viral fossil’ may help explain our vulnerability to HIV

June 22, 2007

History

Reported by a team of researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in the June 22 issue of Science, provide a better understanding of this modern pandemic infection through the study of an ancient virus called Pan troglodytes endogenous retrovirus, or PtERV1. Evidence of human immunity to this ancient retrovirus first emerged with the sequencing of the chimpanzee genome. “Ultimately,” said co-author Malik, “if we want to understand why our defenses are the way they are, the answers inevitably lie in these ancient viruses more so than the ones that have affected us only recently, such as HIV.”