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Scientists discover completely new class of life in the human body

Scientists discover completely new class of life in the human body Scientists have discovered a new type of viroid-like elements (Photo: Unsplash)

Scientists from Stanford University in the United States have reported the discovery of an entirely new type of viroid-like element residing inside the human body. However, they are refraining from making conclusive statements as their research has not yet undergone the peer-review process, according to the article on bioRxiv.

What is known about Obelisks

Biologists speculate that the identified elements may not be viruses but rather a previously unknown group of objects. They are diverse RNA assemblies residing in the human microbiome.

Genetic sequences, referred to as Obelisks by the research authors, have a length of approximately 1,000 characters (nucleotides), which may be why they went unnoticed until now.

The team of scientists analyzed 5.4 million sets of genetic data and identified almost 30,000 different Obelisks. They were found in 10% of the studied human microbiomes and 50% of oral cavity samples. Different parts of the human body may contain different types of these structures.

One type of host cell in the microbiome was also identified, namely the bacterium Streptococcus sanguinis, which resides in the human oral cavity. The Obelisk in this bacterium had a loop with a length of 1,137 nucleotides.

Setting aside the question of the source of Obelisks, it seems that they all contain codes for a new class of proteins called Oblins, according to researchers. This ability to encode proteins distinguishes them from other known RNA loops.

However, scientists were unable to determine the impact of Obelisks on their bacterial hosts or the mechanisms of their spread between cells, emphasizing the possible non-viral nature of these structures.

Previously, we wrote about zombie viruses from the Arctic that could pose a threat to humanity.