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Viral relics show cancer's 'footprint' on our evolution

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Cancer has left its 'footprint' on our evolution, according to a study which examined how the relics of ancient viruses are preserved in the genomes of 38 mammal species.

Viral relics are evidence of the ancient battles our genes have fought against infection. Occasionally the retroviruses that infect an animal get incorporated into that animal’s genome and sometimes these relics get passed down from generation to generation – termed 'endogenous retroviruses' (ERVs). Because ERVs may be copied to other parts of the genome they contribute to the risk of cancer-causing mutations.

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