Kathlyn Powell asked:
I'm wondering if there are any naturally-occurring beneficial viruses, and in particular, in the human body?
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I reckon the answer is yes. First and foremost, I think if you think about viruses that prey on bacteria because just like us, bacteria can catch a cold too.
Bacteriophages will attack bacteria and kill them and this has actually been used as a form of antibiotic therapy and it was pioneered in Russia, but it has actually been used all over the world. What scientists do is find these viruses that discreetly and specifically prey on certain strains of bacteria and specifically the bacteria that's causing an infection in a patient. They can grow up those particular bacteriophages, they put them into the patient, they are unable to infect a personís cells because they lack the right docking system to latch onto one of our cells. They go into the bacteria, grow in the bacteria, each infected bacterium makes hundreds of new bacteriophages which then kill hundreds more bacteria, until it runs out of bacteria to kill, and then the whole thing just disappears. So Iíd say those are pretty beneficial viruses.
Yes, there are bacteria (strains of E. coli) that live in our intestinal flora and metabolize Vitamin K2 for us. Nizzle, Thu, 10th Nov 2011
E coli and its like are not viruses.
Cowpox may be considered a beneficial virus...
Well anything that is parasitic, explodes healthy cells in order to release copies of itself into your system, or potentially messes with your DNA, is probably not going to be benefitial. Still, you'd think by chance alone there might one virus that contributed something useful. A few years back there was a big story in a lot of newspapers about influenza infection causing remissions in some cancers, but I've never seen anything about it since, and wonder if it was disproven. cheryl j, Fri, 11th Nov 2011
Woops, sorry about the E.coli mishap. I must've had a temporarily reading disorder :)
I'm sure that if we removed all viruses the balance of nature would get messed up somehow and therefore I think viruses are beneficial. Nick, Fri, 4th Jan 2013
Well there has been a virus called HS101 which has been approved in china for the treatment of head and neck cancers Vinaykumar Hallur, Tue, 12th Nov 2013
I had the same question and this article might shed some light onto the topic... :-) http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/58/4/531.full Jan, Mon, 3rd Nov 2014