We’ve all seen that cute little photo of a smiling, healthy man on the beach.
We’ve seen that same image on the news a couple of weeks ago, when a video of a man in a suit and tie swimming around in a pool was taken down.
These images are the stuff of memes and viral videos, a bit of fun that’s easily shared with others.
In fact, one of the most common memes on the internet is that you can be compromised immune, or even infected with HIV, if you get a tattoo with the word “covid” or “HBV.”
Now, a new study out of Harvard and Columbia universities has found that the image may be false.
The researchers found that, in fact, the image is the result of a genetic modification that protects the human immune system against HBV, which can lead to a type of cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
What’s more, it was likely created by someone with the gene mutation and has been spread by others.
“We’ve known for a long time that the tattoo is a false representation of the human genome,” says study lead author Matthew K. Miller, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
Miller and his colleagues performed a genetic analysis of a person’s tattoo and found that it was a false copy of the genetic information, a false viral copy of DNA.
The mutation in question is called an MC1R gene, which is found on the surface of every cell in the body.
“The gene mutation that we found in the tattoo was a mutation that causes the MC1Rs [mitochondrial DNA] to be very sensitive to virus,” Miller says.
“It is like a vaccine.
It is a way to protect against viruses.”
The researchers say the MC2R gene is also affected by the mutation.
So they compared the mutation in the MC3R gene in the person’s DNA with a gene mutation in a person with an MC2LR mutation.
The gene mutation is more prevalent in people with an abnormal MC3LR gene, and the mutation caused by the MC5R gene.
“When you have an MC5 gene mutation, the MC4 and MC5 genes are not stimulated to produce viral replication,” Miller explains.
“You have the opposite situation.”
What this means is that if someone has a mutation in their MC3 or MC5, that mutation will make it harder for them to produce the viral replication that helps HBV to spread.
This means that they will have more time to spread the virus.
So if you have a tattoo of a happy man on your arm or leg, chances are you’ll see it on the News.
But if you’re like the majority of Americans who don’t have a viral infection, it may not look so funny.
Miller says it may seem obvious that people with a mutation will be more likely to have a positive reaction to the viral copy.
But what happens when someone with an unmodified MC5 or MC6 gene gets a tattoo?
That’s when things get interesting.
In this case, the tattoo may have been done by someone who has an MC4LR mutation and a mutation of the MC6LR gene.
Miller points out that this can happen in the form of a viral tattoo.
And because the mutation can be passed on to a person through other ways, like being passed on through the air, Miller says that this could potentially cause a false-negative reaction in people who don, in reality, have a mutation.
“If you have the MC7 or MC8 gene, it’s the opposite,” he says.
But as with any genetic mutation, there are ways to avoid false-positive reactions.
“This is an example of how it can be done in the laboratory,” Miller points to the MC8LR gene mutation.
If you’re already healthy and are not having an infection, you don’t need to worry about it, he says, but if you are, and you have some of the mutations listed above, it might be worth it to get a test.
“I hope that this helps people to think about the possibility that they may have a false positive reaction, which might not be as bad as they think,” Miller adds.
“That can be very frustrating, especially when we’re trying to make a really important decision.”
Miller and colleagues report their findings in the journal Nature Methods.
Image credit: Harvard Medical College/Columbia University.