from the stupid-virus dept.
The Sunday Times reports that scientists have found a virus that appears to infect human brains, reducing people’s thinking power including their spatial awareness and attention span (paywalled). The virus, ATCV-1, seems to alter genes governing brain function. “Unexpectedly, we identified DNA sequences of ATCV-1, an algal virus not previously known to infect humans, in oropharyngeal [throat] samples from healthy adults,” said the researchers. “ATCV-1 was associated with a modest but measurable decrease in cognitive functioning.” By using modern bioinformatics analysis, the genes effected were found to be involved in pathways related to dopamine receptor signaling, cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (CDK5) signaling, antigen presentation, immune cell adhesion, and eukaryotic initiation factor 2. Note that dopamine is a central component of many psychiatric conditions."