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Scientists Have Decoded The Genome Of The Herpes Virus

Scientists Have Decoded The Genome Of The Herpes Virus

German and British biologists have deciphered the genome of the herpes simplex virus, which is much more complex than previously thought. The results are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is probably the most common virus among people. According to various data, the HSV-1 virus is infected from 60 to 95 percent of the entire adult population of the world.

When it enters the human body, the herpes simplex virus persists there for the rest of your life. It may not manifest itself for a long time, becoming active only under special circumstances, such as weakened immune systems, hypothermia, nervous stress, and some others.

In most people, HSV-1 manifests itself as an unpleasant itchy rash on the lips or under the nose, popularly called "labial colds." But in some cases, infections associated with this virus can have serious consequences. For example, HSV-1 can cause herpetic encephalitis, which often leads to permanent brain damage or life-threatening pneumonia in patients in intensive care units.

Until now, scientists have assumed that the HSV-1 virus genome is not so complex and it has about 80 so-called Open Reading Frames (ORF) - sequences of nucleotides in the DNA that can potentially encode a protein.

The results of a new study conducted by German and British geneticists showed that there are many more of them, namely — 284. This increase in the number of ORFS is due to the fact that scientists were able to identify hundreds of new viral transcripts — RNA molecules formed as a result of transcription — and expression of the corresponding gene or DNA section.

"The new results now allow us to study individual virus genes in much more detail than before," Lars Dölken, head of the study and Professor of the Department of Virology at the Julius and Maximilian University of würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, said in a press release.

Researchers from JMU, along with colleagues From the max delbrück center for molecular medicine in Berlin, the University of Cambridge in England, and the Ludwig and Maximilian University of Munich, used a wide range of advanced approaches to systems biology, including quantitative proteomics and reverse genetics for whole cells.

In order to make all the data easily accessible, the authors developed a special visualization program that can show results at any level — from the complete genome to the resolution of a single nucleotide.

The data obtained is important not only for a better understanding of the virus itself.

According to the researchers, they will have a specific practical application: for example, for the development of oncolytic viruses based on HSV-1. These are viruses that are used in the immunological treatment of certain cancers, such as malignant melanoma. This area of Oncology has received the name of vibrotherapy.

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