Hep B virus found in 4,500-year-old human remains

The hepatitis B virus was found in ancient humans, including a warrior buried in this mass grave in Omnogobi, Mongolia.
The hepatitis B virus was found in ancient humans, including a warrior buried in this mass grave in Omnogobi, Mongolia.PHOTO: ALEXEY A. KOVALEV

The hepatitis B virus has been infecting people since at least the Bronze Age, according to a new study published in the journal Nature by geneticists who teased the virus from 4,500-year-old human remains.

Hepatitis B was discovered in the 1960s, and a vaccine (and Nobel Prize) came swiftly thereafter. But despite the vaccine, the virus still kills people, and chronic infections cannot be cured.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Hep B virus found in 4,500-year-old human remains'. Print Edition | Subscribe