Remnants of Ancient Viruses May Help Humans Fight Cancer, Scientists Say

Cancer cellInternationalIndiaAfricaResearchers behind the new study argue that cancer essentially revives the dormant ancient viral DNA and thus provokes an immune response that attacks cancerous cells in the process.The legacy of ancient viruses preserved in human DNA may help people battle cancer to this day, researchers from the Francis Crick Institute in the UK suggest.Numerous infections with viruses our ancestors contracted over the past millions of years have left a lasting impression on our genetic makeup, with about 8 percent of the human genome being comprised of retroviral DNA, with known genes making up only 1-2 percent, the institute explained in a press release issued back in 2019.Now, a new study conducted by Francis Crick Institute researchers and published this week suggests that there may be a link between the immune response observed in some lung cancer patients and the “improved patient survival” witnessed in these cases.MilitaryPentagon Study Finds High Cancer Rates Among Military Pilots, Ground Crews20 March, 00:48 GMTThe immune response in question involved B cells, white blood cells also known as B lymphocytes, clustering around tumors, and the researchers believe that it occurs due to cancer reactivating the ancient viral DNA, thus attracting the attention of the immune system.”The immune system is tricked into believing that the tumor cells are infected and it tries to eliminate the virus, so it’s sort of an alarm system,” Professor George Kassiotis, head of the laboratory of Retroviral Immunology at the Francis Crick Institute, told a British media outlet.


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