Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

An Unexpected Virus Reservoir

25.04.2012
International researchers under the aegis of the University of Bonn have discovered the probable cause of several infectious agents at the same time.

Paramyxoviruses originate from ubiquitous bats, from where the pathogens have spread to humans and other mammals. In total, this unique study tested 9,278 animals for viruses, leading to the discovery of an enormous number of new virus species.


Rundblattnasen-Fledermaus im Flug. Das Bild wurde in Ghana aufgenommen. (c) Foto: Florian Gloza-Rausch/Uni Bonn/Noctalis Bad Segeberg


Fruchtfledermaus: Das Bild wurde ebenfalls in Ghana aufgenommen. (c) Foto: Victor Corman/Uni Bonn

This could make eradicating many dangerous diseases significantly more difficult than had been thought. For bats provide a reservoir from which viruses could come back after vaccination campaigns. The results of this study have just been published in the current issue of "Nature Communications."

Where do viruses dangerous to humans come from, and how have they evol¬ved? Scientists working with Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Head of the In¬stitute for Virology at the Universitätsklinikum Bonn, have made sig¬nificant progress in answering this question. "We already knew from prior studies that bats and rodents play a role as carriers of paramyxoviruses," said Prof. Drosten. The many varied members of this large virus family cause, e.g., measles, mumps, pneumonias and colds. The highly dan¬gerous Hendra and Nipah viruses cause types of ence¬pha¬litis that result in death for one out of two patients. Paramyxoviruses also play a role in veterinary medicine, causing e.g., canine distemper or rinderpest.
Researchers double the number of known paramyxovirus species

With support from numerous scientific institutes in Germany and around the world, they tested a total of 9,278 animals from Europe, South America and Asia, including 86 bat and 33 rodent species. "These ani¬mals live in very large social communities with millions of individuals in some cases," reported the Bonn virologist. "Their close contact promotes mutual infection and provides for great variety in circulating viruses." Using molecular biology methods, the scientists identified which virus species are rampant in bats and rodents. According to their own esti¬mates, they discovered more than 60 new paramyxovirus species. "That is about as many as the number that was already known," said Drosten.

Bats are the original paramyxovirus hosts

Using computational biology methods, the scientists calculated a com¬mon evolutionary tree for the new and the known viruses. They then deduced, using mathematical methods, in which host animals the viruses have most likely taken up residence during their evolutionary history. "Our analysis shows that almost all of the forebears of today's para¬myxoviruses have existed in bats," explained Prof. Drosten. "Just as with influenza, where we are keeping an eye on birds as a source of new pan¬demic viruses, we will now have to study the bat viruses to see if they are a danger to humans." So, the current data might play a useful role in early detection and prevention of epidemics – a major new goal in virus research.

Mumps viruses have jumped to humans

The findings also included that the Hendra and Nipah viruses that cause encephalitis in Asia and Australia really came from Africa. "This results in an urgent need to conduct medical studies in Africa," said the Bonn viro¬logist, adding that many disease cases on this continent remain unex¬plained and might possibly have been caused by such new viruses. In one case, the scientists have already found proof that bat viruses transfer directly to humans. "Our data show that the human mumps virus comes directly from bats – and can be found there to this day," reported Prof. Drosten.

Dangerous viruses cannot be eradicated anytime soon

These results indicate that it may not be as easy to eradicate dangerous viruses as had been assumed. For eliminating an infectious agent perma¬nently from the population by means of vaccination requires that there are no animal hosts from which a new infection might come. "In bats, we assume that there is a vast reservoir of such agents," said Drosten. "If the vaccination campaigns are stopped once a virus has been eradicated, this might present a potential risk - maybe we will have to rethink." This is why Drosten advocates taking into account ecological data when planning vaccination campaigns. Eradicating bats or other wild animals would be neither possible nor sensible. "Bats and other small wild mammals are of immeasurable value for our planet's ecosystems," Drosten summarized his and his colleagues' unanimous opinion.
Publication: Bats host major mammalian paramyxoviruses, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1796

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten
Institute of Virology
Universitätsklinikum Bonn
Ph: 0049-228-28711055
Email: drosten@virology-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Millions through license revenues

27.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today

27.04.2017 | Information Technology

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>