Biologists from the University of Pennsylvania found that strains of the herpes virus could help to trace different events of human life, and even determine the criminal's identity. Results of the research will be published in Virology Journal.
The researchers found out that the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) has several varieties.
Biologists determined this, having decrypted viral genomes in an organism of a volunteer. Owing to this investigation, they discovered that one of the strains has a European/North American origin, and the other one is from Asia.
It is noteworthy that the Asian version of a virus, which has been found in the participant of the experiment, was supposedly obtained during his military service in the Korean War in the 50s. According to scientists, the story of most people's lives can be "written" at the molecular level of the viruses.
Studies also have shown that the geographical origin of the virus can be predicted on the basis of human's biography, because HSV-1 is usually acquired in young years. The virus also can be used as a marker to determine the identity of the offender, which can be a very helpful complement to existing methods of DNA analysis.
Currently, the scientists are working on development of new effective methods for decoding virus genomes, isolated from a negligible amount of genetic material, to successfully identify and compare different samples.
This may provide a better understanding of the genetic diversity of viruses, defining how various strains may influence the course of disease.
Herpes simplex virus is transmitted through direct contact and household items. After the HSV-1 is embedded in the nerve cell genetic apparatus, it cannot be removed from the human body by existing therapies.
In addition, scientists from Columbia and Manchester universities found that the herpes virus could stimulate the development of Alzheimer's disease.