Gut virus 'affects half the world's population'

21 July 2014

There is a virus living inside half of the world's population that has been undetected by scientists for decades, according to a new study in the Netherlands.

The report, which was carried out by researchers at San Diego State University, reveals that over 50 per cent of people are host to the crAssphage virus, which infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria, Bacteroidetes.

This phylum of bacteria is thought to be connected with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases, according to Robert Edwards, a bioinformatics professor at the university, who published the report in the journal Nature Communications, along with SDSU virologist John Mokili.

They used a technique known as DNA amplification to locate the virus in human samples used to build the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project, and came up with "indisputable biological proof" that the virus exists, Mr Mokili said.

Professor Edwards added: "It’s not unusual to go looking for a novel virus and find one. But it’s very unusual to find one that so many people have in common. The fact that it’s flown under the radar for so long is very strange."

Posted by Philip Briggs


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