Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New coronavirus related to viruses from bats

20.11.2012
The virus that is causing alarm among global public health authorities after it killed a man in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia earlier this year and is now linked to two other cases of disease is a novel type of coronavirus most closely related to viruses found in bats, according to a genetic analysis to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, on November 20.

Researchers studied the genome of the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus in detail to learn about its relatedness to other viruses and about possible sources. The results of the sequencing and analysis could be used to develop diagnostic methods and possibly in creating therapies and vaccines if they are eventually needed for this emerging disease.

"The virus is most closely related to viruses in bats found in Asia, and there are no human viruses closely related to it," says Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, who headed up the study. "Therefore, we speculate that it comes from an animal source."

The case in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, in which a 60-year-old man suffered from acute pneumonia and renal failure before his death, reminded public health authorities around the world of the threat posed by coronaviruses, a group that includes the the SARS virus, a pathogen that emerged in 2002 and eventually lead to the deaths of more than 900 people.

The HCoV-EMC/2012 virus is under increasing scrutiny today as two other patients suffering from infections with similar viruses have been identified. Since the patient in Saudi Arabia died in June, an individual from Qatar has been diagnosed with a very similar condition and is currently being cared for at a hospital in London. The full genomic sequence of the virus from that patient was made available on November 13, and Fouchier says it is a very close match with the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus sequence he analyzed in the mBio® paper, showing only 99 single nucleotide differences (in an unpublished analysis).

"That makes it clear they are the same species. Ninety-nine nucleotides on the full genome amounts to only 0.3 – 0.4% difference," says Fouchier. "That, of course raises new questions."

Now a third case of illness from this new virus has been identified, this time in Saudi Arabia again, but the genome sequence of that virus is not yet available.

The genome of the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus that is the focus of the mBio® study was fully sequenced within a few days by combining an optimized random amplification deep sequencing approach, which covered about 90% of the genome, with conventional Sanger sequencing to confirm these draft findings.

Phylogenetic analyses place the virus within the Betacoronavirus genus, where its closest fully sequenced relatives are viruses called BtCoV-HKU4 and BtCoV-HKU5, both of which were originally isolated in Asia from Lesser bamboo bats (Tylonycteris pachypus) and Japanese house bats (Pipistrellus abramus), respectively. HCoV-EMC/2012 bears only 77% sequence similarity with the BtCoV-HKU5 virus, however, making it distinct enough to be called a novel species of virus, says Fouchier. A partial sequence from a virus that was isolated from a species of bat in the Netherlands appears to be a closer match with HCoV-EMC/2012, but without a full genome sequence the exact degree of relatedness is impossible to tell.

Based on the similarities the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus shares with viruses from bats, and taking into account a separate serological study carried out in Saudi Arabia that showed 2,400 hospital visitors had no antibodies to the virus, Fouchier feels confident saying the virus is new to humans. That source may well be bats, he says, since Pipistrellus bats are present in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.

The relatedness between the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus and the virus that infected the patient in the unnamed London hospital is interesting, says Fouchier, since they are similar enough to be the same species but different enough that they are probably not directly linked. "It is unlikely they would be infected from the same source. We really need to understand whether these viruses are coming from a single source or multiple sources" before more cases come to light, he says.

In addition to the insights it provides for identifying the source of the virus and linking cases of illness together, the genome sequence of the HCoV-EMC/2012 virus will also enable scientists to study the virus in more detail. By making synthetic copies of the virus genome, Fouchier says scientists can reconstruct the virus in the lab and study its properties to identify the sources of its virulence.

The genome sequence could also be pivotal to protecting public health. "A well-annotated genome sequence is crucial to further the development of diagnostic methods and antivirals and vaccines that might be needed," says Fouchier. Considering that three cases of disease from the virus have already been identified, he says, "we certainly need the diagnostics already."

"Whether we would need antivirals and vaccines? Well, I certainly hope not," says Fouchier.

mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at http://mBio.asm.org.

The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.

Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asmusa.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>