HomeHealth & FitnessAnother monkey virus on the verge of infecting humans: Researchers

Another monkey virus on the verge of infecting humans: Researchers

An unknown family of viruses that is currently prevalent in wild African primates and known to cause deadly Ebola-like symptoms in some monkeys is “ready to spillover,” according to the new University of Colorado Boulder published online September 30 in the journal Cell. Is. People.

Despite the fact that such aneurysms are already considered a serious threat to macaque monkeys, no human infection has been observed to date. It is also unknown what effect the virus might have on humans if it jumped across species.

However, scientists are analogous to HIV (whose precursor originated in African monkeys), caution: The global health community could potentially avoid another pandemic by monitoring aneurysms in both animals and humans, the scientists suggested.

“This animal virus has acted to enter human cells, to reproduce, and to evade some of the important immune responses that we would expect an animal virus to protect.” “This is very unusual,” said senior author Sarah Sawyer, a CU Boulder professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology. “We need to focus on this.”

There are thousands of different viruses spread among animals around the world, most of which cause no symptoms. In recent decades, increasing numbers of viruses have jumped into humans, wreaking havoc on the nave immune system and those with no experience to fight them: Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012, SARS in 2003 -CoV and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in 2020. For the past 15 years, Sawyer’s lab has used laboratory techniques and tissue samples from wildlife around the world to determine which animal viruses can infect people.

He and lead author Cody Warren, a postdoctoral fellow at CU’s Biofrontiers Institute, focus on aneurysms, which are abundant in pigs and horses but understated in nonhuman primates. They focused on simian hemorrhagic fever virus (SHFV), which causes a more devastating disease than Ebola virus disease and has been responsible for fatal outbreaks in captive macaque colonies since the 1960s. Research suggests that a molecule called CD163 plays an important role. The biology of simian aneurysms allows the virus to enter and infect target cells. The researchers found, to their surprise, that the virus was extraordinarily efficient at harboring the human version of CD163 inside human cells and rapidly replicating itself.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and its ancestor simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), such as simian arterioles, attack immune cells, weakening important defense mechanisms and establishing a long-term presence in the body.

“The parallels between this virus and the simian virus that caused the HIV epidemic are deep,” said Warren, who is currently an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The authors emphasize that another pandemic is not imminent and that the public need not worry.

However, they recommend that the global health community prioritize further research into simian aneurysms, develop blood antibody tests for them, and investigate surveillance of human populations exposed to animal carriers.

A wide variety of African monkeys already carry high viral loads of multiple aneurysms, often without symptoms, and some species frequently contact humans, bite and scratch them.

“Just because we haven’t identified human arterial infection yet, doesn’t mean that no one has been exposed.” “We didn’t see that,” Warren explained.

Warren and Sawyer point out that even in the 1970s, no one had heard of HIV.

Researchers now believe that HIV originated in nonhuman primates in Africa before spreading to humans in the early 1900s. When HIV began killing young men in the United States in the 1980s, there were no serology tests and no cure in the works.

According to Sawyer, there is no certainty that these simian arteryviruses will infect humans. But one thing is certain: more viruses will infect humans and cause disease.

“COVID is only the most recent in a long line of events that have spread from animal to people, some of which have erupted into global disasters,” Sawyer explained. “Our aim is that by increasing knowledge about the virus, we can get ahead of it so that if human diseases do start, we can respond faster.”

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