New virus discovered
More than half of the world’s population contains a virus that lives in the gut. It contaminates and replicates itself inside a common bacteria, Bacteroidetes. Bacteroidetes implied to connect to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases linking to the gut. Scientists have recently discovered this virus and claim it won’t make you sick. The virus is called crAssphage as it’s in detail in Nature Communications. while screening for new viruses, analyzing the DNA in fecal samples from 12 people, Bas Dutilh and Robert Edwards from San Diego State University, discovered that all the samples had a certain group of viral DNA that were about 97,000 base pairs long.
They individually analyzed the virus in national, publicly, and available databases, they discovered there was a large amount in human feces-derived samples. The team used DNA amplification to locate the virus in the original samples to confirm that the viral DNA they found on their computer actually exists. Come to found out, the virus is in the majority of people but wasn’t known about. It was available in 342 of the 466 fecal “metagenomes” they looked at. “It’s not unusual to go looking for a novel virus and find one,” Edwards says in a news release. “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.”
The virus was named after the cross-assembly software programmed they used for its discovery instead of after where it was found. “Oh, no, we never thought of that,” Edwards tells NPR. “We would never be crass”. Dutilh and his colleagues figured out that it’s a bacteriophage because of it’s proteins are like those found in common viruses. Since it’s in the majority of humans it’s not a new as you think and is probably as old as humans are. “Three-fourths of the DNA sequences in a new stool sample are unknown”, according to Dutilh. Because it’s so widespread, it can’t be very young — probably as old as humans are. So how is it that we’ve only just detected this super common virus that’s inside at least half of us? Shrug… but it happens a lot. More information about crAssphage is difficult to figure out. “We know it’s there, but we can’t capture it quite yet,” Edwards says.