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 Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>