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  • Conversation: Scientists 'completely surprised' by immunity-boosting virus

    • July 4, 2018 12:50 PM BST
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      Scientists 'completely surprised' by immunity-boosting virus

      Though you may not hear of it often, cytomegalovirus is a fairly common virus. It is usually harmless, but once contracted, it remains in the system for the rest of a person's life.
      According to the BMJ Best Practice resource, "Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a ubiquitous beta-herpes virus that infects the majority of humans."
      Infected individuals typically do not experience any symptoms. The virus can be transmitted by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids, such as blood, of an already-infected individual.
      Once acquired, it remains in a person's body for their entire life.
      In a new study that was conducted in mice, Dr. Janko Nikolich-Žugich — of the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson — and team decided to look into how, and under what conditions, aging individuals would mount a stronger immune response against viral infections.
      Typically, young bodies have stronger defenses. But as we age, our immunity begins to decrease. "That's why older people are more susceptible to infections than younger people," explains Dr. Nikolich-Žugich.
      The scientists involved with the new study were interested in finding out how the immune systems of aging individuals might be fortified and rendered more efficient once more.
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