According to an article on Science Daily researchers at Washington University have discovered that:
Mice with chronic herpes virus infections can better resist the bacterium that causes plague and a bacterium that causes one kind of food poisoning, researchers report in Nature.
What does this have to do with Egnor and evolution?
The results have potentially wide-reaching implications for immune research. Humans and other mammals have spent millions of years living and evolving with latent viral infections, Virgin notes, and the new results imply that infections may have altered our immune systems at a fundamental level [emphasis mine – afarensis]. This could mean the virus-free animal models scientists use to study vaccines, autoimmune diseases, and other immune system issues have the potential to produce misleading results.
“Chronic virus infections may in part define what a normal human immune response is,” says Virgin, who is the Edward Mallinckrodt Professor of Pathology and Immunology. “We may need to think about that as we consider the implications animal model results hold for human diseases.”
Scientists have recognized for years that many types of bacteria and other microorganisms live in the human gut to the advantage of both the microbes and their human hosts. The results from the Virgin lab are among the first to suggest the potential for symbiotic benefits from viral infections that live in areas beyond epithelial surfaces like the skin, throat or intestines.
Go figure, another medical doctor using evolutionary theory to help understand the effects of infectious diseases…
Filed under: Evolution