Oldest human virus discovered in 4,500-year-old skeleton

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The strain of hepatitis B has ‘transformed’ researchers' understanding of the virus.

Oldest human virus discovered in 4,500-year-old skeleton. (Photo: Pixabay)

Scientists say they have recently discovered the oldest human virus in a 4,500-year-old skeleton, the Daily Mail reported.

DNA sampling on a Bronze Age skeleton in Osterhofen, Germany, uncovered the find. The skeleton was part of the 'Bell Beaker' culture known for their pottery cups shaped in the form of a bell.

The strain of hepatitis B has ‘transformed’ researchers' understanding of the virus, the report revealed.  It is a deadly liver disease.

While the various mutations of the virus do no exist anymore, the finding will help scientists develop ways to fight lethal new strains.

"People have tried to unravel the history of HBV for decades," lead author Barbara Muhlemann, a Cambridge University PhD student, is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail. Adding, "This study transforms our understanding of the virus."

The study was originally published in the journal Nature.

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