Newly discovered virus disturbs scientists who have no idea how it infects hosts

A new type of virus that defies evolution has shocked scientists who have no idea how it is infecting its hosts.

Researchers in Japan were combing through pig manure — which is brimming with viruses — when they made the disturbing discovery.

A virus is among the simplest of living things and consists of its genetic material — DNA or RNA — and a shell made of protein.

The protein shell has aerial-like spikes in it which the virus uses to hack into and hijack a host cell so it replicates itself — resulting in illness if the virus is disease-causing like Ebola, Norovirus, or flu.

But this new virus, from the diarrhoea-causing enterovirus G family, has no shell at all which has completely baffled scientists.

How does it survive without the weaponry to break into its hosts?

Professor Tetsuya Mizutani, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT), said: ”The recombinant virus we found in this study has no structural proteins.

“This means the recombinant virus cannot make a viral particle.”

Prof Mizutani suspects the virus may be partnering up with a “helper virus” to gain access to a host cell, but this is uncharted territory.

He added: ”We may be facing an entirely new system of viral evolution.

“We are wondering how this new virus came to be, how it infects cells or how it develops a viral particle.

“Our future work will be on solving this mystery of viral evolution.”

The study led by Prof Mizutani was first published on July 22 in Infection, Genetics and Evolution, an Elsevier journal.

This comes after fears of a camel flu pandemic after the virus was reported to kill one in three people it infects.

Meanwhile, HIV could be cured after an international team of scientists found a “silver bullet” which kills it.

And an ancient virus thought to infect dinosaurs has been dug up in a piece of amber.

 

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