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 World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>