Ancient viral invaders in our DNA help fight today's infections

EarthzineEarth Observation

Roughly eight percent of our DNA comes from viruses that infected our ancestors millions of years ago. New research by University of Utah geneticists shows that more than an oddity,the viral DNA switches on genes responsible for initiating an immune response. When removed, the innate immune system — a first-responder to infection by pathogens including viruses — does not function properly. The study shows that viral DNA functions in our body by helping us fight infections.