Magazine article USA TODAY

Virus Origin's "Missing Link."(discovery of Primitive Form That May Link RNA-Based and DNA-Based Life Forms)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Virus Origin's "Missing Link."(discovery of Primitive Form That May Link RNA-Based and DNA-Based Life Forms)

Article excerpt

Researchers at Ohio State University have found what appears to be the "missing link" connecting the ancient world of virus-like RNAs and other primitive entities to retroviruses and the modern world of Dna-based creatures. The discovery provides new information about the origin of retroviruses that cause diseases such as AIDS and cancer.

"We've found a very primitive version of present-day retroviruses, which may be related to the first genetic elements to replicate using DNA," explains Alan Lambowitz, professor of molecular genetics, biochemistry, and medical biochemistry. "And this primitive entity may be the first step, the transitional form, of all modern Dna-based life forms."

He emphasizes the significance of the finding: "We think this may be right at the beginning of DNA development. Not only does this help us tie everything together evolutionarily, but this work will help us better understand retroviruses, maybe ultimately leading to the development of antiviral therapies. …

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