New virus found in gut of almost half of human population

By Jennifer Pilgrim,

Researchers at San Diego State University have discovered a new virus within the human gut that exists in almost half of the population and may play a key role in certain conditions such as diabetes, obesity and other medical issues in today's society.

The virus has the same genetic fingerprint as a common bacteriophage, reports the BBC. Bacteriophages are a type of virus that infect bacteria and control their behavior, which would explain why the new virus would have an affect on medical conditions.

Professor Robert Edwards, who is the lead author of the study done, says: "In some way phages are like wolves in the wild, surrounded by hares and deer. They are critical components of our gut ecosystems, helping control the growth of bacterial populations and allowing a diversity of species."

The scientists are now attempting to grow the virus in the laboratory, reports The Australian Tribune. The new virus was dubbed "crAssphage," and has a unique DNA sequence that originally caught the researchers' eyes.



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