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Another "ancient virus" question

bhjelle at unm.edu bhjelle at unm.edu
Fri Mar 3 15:53:55 EST 1995

The question about "ancient viruses" got me interested in
another idea. I occasionally get inquires from anthro-
pologists and others who are interested in examining
mummified or other ancient specimens for viruses,
ie, hundreds or thousands of years old. I'm aware that
this is theoretically possible for DNA viruses, especially
with PCR/direct sequencing approaches - presumably it
would be very unlikely to work for RNA viruses. Does
anyone know of any successes in amplifying viral genomes
from specimens such as these, such as the Iceman or
mummified humans, frozen mammoths, etc? (Please,
no stories about smallpox from avalanche victims
50-100 years old- I'm interested in older material).


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