Scientists out of Paris have said that they will take a 30,000 year old giant virus and reanimate it in the coming weeks. The virus was unearthed in Siberia, a frozen wasteland. The point of the study is to see if global warming will reanimate dangerous pathogens that could do extreme harm to our bodies and our ecosystems.
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The report came from the US National Academy of Sciences, and French researchers announced the fourth type of prehistoric virus that has been found since 2003. It is the second time that the French found the virus.
Before they can reanimate it, they need to make sure that it won't cause animal or human diseases that could harm anyone.
To qualify as a “giant”, a virus has to be longer than half a micron, a thousandth of a millimetre (0.00002 of an inch). Mollivirus sibericum, which means “soft virus from Siberia, ”comes in at whopping 0.6 microns, and was found in the permafrost of Siberia in northeast Russia. Permafrost that scientists aren't too sure will be there for much longer in global warming continues at the rate it is going.
“A few viral particles that are still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses,” one of the lead researchers, Jean-Michel Claverie, told AFP.
It is a virus of interest because it likely has the power that other microbes in the area have - they are coveted for their mineral resources, especially oil.
“If we are not careful, and we industrialise these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as small pox that we thought were eradicated,” he added.
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In very safe and protected laboratory conditions, Claverie and his team will attempt to revive the virus by placing it with single-cell amoeba, which will serve as its host. Claverie runs a lab at France's National Centre for Scientific Research and has revived another virus, Pithovirus sibericum, in a petri dish.