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article imageViruses help to maintain human health

By Tim Sandle     Nov 23, 2014 in Science
New York - Scientists now argue that the natural presence of viruses in the gut (virome) help to maintain health-maintenance and infection-fighting. This is similar to the role of the intestinal bacteria.
Digital Journal has run a series of articles about how bacteria in the gut affect our health (interacting in what is called the “microbiome”.) To add to this complexity, new evidence has emerged about the role of viruses within the human body (what is now termed the “virome.”)
The human virome is a term that describes the collection of all the viruses in the human body. This is a fast changing realm, for humans are constantly exposed to a variety of viruses that are genetically diverse and have new genotypes, strains and species that evolve rapidly. Viruses are deceptively simple organisms consisting of genetic material packed in a protein shell; however, they appear to play a complex role in human health.
To give an idea of the role of the virome researchers have undertaken studies using mice. In the experiments, mice were infected with the common murine norovirus (MNV). The addition of this virsu helped mice repair intestinal tissue damaged by inflammation and helped restore their gut's immune defenses after their microbiome (beneficial gut bacteria) had been eliminated through antibiotic therapy.
In a second study, designed to mimic the impact of antibiotic overuse in humans, virologists fed normal mice a chemical that is damaging to gut tissue. All of the mice had been previously treated with antibiotics and depleted of bacteria. They found that mice pre-treated and infected with MNV lived longer.
The results infer that there is a mutually supportive relationship between viruses and bacteria. This assumption will require further studies in order to understand this relationship better.
The research was carried out at the NYU Langone Medical Center. The findings have been published in Nature, in a paper titled “Contrasting roles of histone 3 lysine 27 demethylases in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.”
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