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charming and a little scary

charming and a little scary


March 10, 2023 – Among all the consequences of climate change, there is one that no one expected.

European researchers dig up Siberian permafrost Discovered and revived 13 prehistoric virusesAs the ancient frozen earth slowly loses its “perm” label due to rising temperatures, it is becoming more and more microbes that modern humans have never encountered.

Researchers have coined the not-so-great term “zombie virus” to describe a dormant virus that has been frozen in ice for tens of thousands of years, actually between 27,000 and 48,500 years. rice field.

The first question is clear. This is tempting, but is it a good idea? We are still dealing with a particular mutant virus that our immune system has never encountered before.

Second question: what do you mean?

No humans were harmed in this study

Short answer: The virus observed here could only infect amoebas. But viruses that can infect humans do exist in environments like permafrost.

An unknown virus could appear out of nowhere and cause a new pandemic.

Say, “There is an objective risk, and it is increasing.” Jean-Michel ClaveryPrincipal Investigator and Professor Emeritus of Genomics and Bioinformatics at Aix-Marseille University, France. “But we cannot quantify this probability, especially since we refuse to deal with and revive a virus that infects humans and animals. It would be too dangerous.”

Based on Clavery and his team’s results, viruses that infect humans and animals can survive deep in permafrost for long periods of time.

“From our study, we can speculate that other viruses present in permafrost are likely still infectious,” Clavery says. “By sequencing all DNA, we can detect the presence of viruses similar to those currently infecting animals and humans.”

However, catastrophic events, such as exposure of humans to thawing permafrost, are highly unlikely. “[The microbes] It spoils quickly when exposed to heat, UV light and oxygen,” he says.

Also, in places like Siberia, where permafrost is present, people generally aren’t. case) is rather unfounded. However, as more people and businesses begin to move into areas where these microbes are being released, the virus may become more likely to infect its host.

But if…

So what if, hypothetically, the next deadly virus to overtake our planet came from the Arctic permafrost? Could it even be prepared remotely?

“There is a small risk that the frozen virus that was discovered could start an infection chain and eventually infect humans,” he says. Adrian ListonPhD, immunologist and senior group leader at the Babraham Institute, a life sciences research institute at the University of Cambridge, UK. Liston was not involved in the research described here. “On the one hand, the initial ability to fight infection is low because there is no pre-existing immunity to it. The chances of doing so are extremely low.

That’s what many people don’t understand: Today’s viruses and other infectious microbes are infectious just because they exist today. has evolved to

“‘Invasion events’ occur only infrequently and can shape human evolution,” says Liston. Choose the type of immune system that can fight them, killing the ‘wrong’ people, greatly impacting human evolution when they invade our species. A type of immune system. ”

Also, not all organisms are harmful.

“There are many microbes that are beneficial to humans,” says Liston. “But generally speaking, these are microbes that have evolved over millions of years to work in harmony with our bodies, like the microbiome, or the yeast that makes and brews bread. Like, microbes that have been selected for thousands of years to do chores that are beneficial to us. Beer.”

Randomly frozen microbes are unlikely to affect us directly, but if they do, it’s much more likely to be bad, says Liston.

For now, at least, it’s reassuring to know that Claverie and his team have no plans to revive the dangerous virus or retrieve more samples. “Because of the war between Russia and Ukraine, all our cooperation has come to a halt. Now we are focused on studying viruses that are already in the lab, and how they replicate and interact with their cellular hosts. I understand how they interact,” he says.

If anything, zombie viruses can at least remind us of the ever-increasing impact of climate change on our lives and our planet in the near future.

“The most important lesson is that climate change creates unexpected problems,” says Liston. “It’s not just weather change, climate change and sea level rise. will occur.”




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