Monday, September 14, 2009

Oh, Me and Viruses? We Go Way Back.

Frank Ryan, author of Virolution, argues that we are much closer to our virological friends than we might expect. While recognizing that viruses act largely in a very selfish manner, he cautions the typical germaphobe from seeing them as just a pack of proteins.

“People who view viruses only as chemical assemblages miss the vitally important point that they have arrived on the scene through a vast, and exceedingly complex, trajectory of evolution, much as we have ourselves.”

Human endogenic retroviruses, he argues, were absolutely crucial through the evolution of mankind. Up to 46 percent of our genome comes from viruses, a high number when placed in comparison to the 1.5% that came from our animal ancestors.

Ryan likes to see viruses as following the same evolutionary process that its hosts do. He feels that seeing both the positive and negative elements of the viruses will help us discover the best way to treat viruses in mammals.

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