About a million people in the UK carry a herpes virus in their genomes, according to a new analysis.
The Leicester University researchers say the herpesvirus6 got into the human genome about 24,000 years ago.
Latent HHV-6 is known to pose risks for people who are immunocompromised - although the researchers say little is known about the impact on people who carry it in the genome.
People who inherit the virus in the genome have it in a telomere, carrying one copy of the viral genome per cell - with 86 viral genes in each genome, according to the report in the Journal of Virology.
Researcher Dr Nicola Royle said: 'There has been very little research into the consequences for people who have inherited HHV-6, although a recent Canadian study has shown they have an increased risk of suffering from angina pectoris.'
She added: 'Despite the antiquity of this inherited HHV-6B genome, it is intact and therefore potentially functional in all five carriers.
'We want to find out whether integrated HHV-6 carriers have an increased risk of disease or other adverse effects, and, if so, how this might be manifested.'
Source: Inherited chromosomally integrated human herpesvirus 6 genomes are ancient, intact and potentially able to reactivate from telomeres Journal of Virology 23 August 2017
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