According to scientists, an Ancient dormant virus is a part of your DNA and could become alive again at any moment.
After analysing the genome of some 2,500 people, the team from Tufts University School of Medicine found nineteen new pieces of non-human DNA within our genome, taking the total of us which isn’t human to a whopping eight percent, which is largely made up of viruses.
Some of this newly discovered DNA could have been passed along through humans for as long as 670,000 years, and some of which may influence diseases in our bodies today.
However, most startlingly is the fact that the experts have found a piece of viral code which is still completely intact and may spring an ancient virus into life once more.
Senior author and virologist John Coffin said: “This one looks like it is capable of making infectious virus, which would be very exciting if true, as it would allow us to study a viral epidemic that took place long ago.”
The team are now studying whether the code they discovered, known as Xq21, could become fully functional in future generations, according to the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Co-first author Zachary Williams said: “Many studies have tried to link these endogenous viral elements to cancer and other diseases, but a major difficulty has been that we haven’t actually found all of them yet.”
The viral strains are known as human endogenous retroviruses, or HERVs, which is where ancient infectious viruses replaced a DNA-based copy of their own RNA genetic material into our ancestors’ genomes.
Genetics researcher Jeffrey Kidd added: “These are remnants of ancient events that have not been fixed in the population as a whole, but rather happened in the ancestors of some people alive today.
“There have been a number of examples of other HERVs that insert themselves next to human genes or near them, and have impact on their expression.”