The Original Cold Virus Came From Camels

Posted: Aug 22 2016, 8:19am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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The Original Cold Virus Came from Camels
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A team of researchers have found that one of four coronaviruses for the common cold, also known as HCoV-229E, originated in camels before it was transmitted to humans.

This comes as a surprise because it wasn't even known that viruses could spread between two species until 2012 when another virus, Middle East Repiratory Syndrome (MERS), made the jump to people from camels.

This new study suggests that camels might actually be the cause of a whole bunch of other infections, including rhinoviruses and the three other coronaviruses, HCoV-229E which is one of the main causes of the common cold.

"In our MERS investigations we examined about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and were surprised to find pathogens that are related to 'HCoV-229E', the human common cold virus, in almost 6 percent of the cases," said lead researcher Christian Drosten, from the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany.

In order to figure out how the virus was similar across all animals, the team looked at the molecular comparison on the common cold in bats, camels, and humans. We already know that bats can transmit diseases to people.

The research suggests that the cold virus isn't just similar, it is the same thing and it made the jump between camels and humans at some point.

They then took things a step further by isolating the camel-based cold virus and watched it enter the human cells using the same receptors.

Of course, just getting a better understanding of the common cold is important by itself, this research is crucial to try to predict how the MERS virus, which is often fatal, will spread for camels to humans. It will also help with the stoppage.

They found that the human body is good at defending itself against the common camel cold, which suggests that a healthy immune system should be able to do the same thing with MERS. There was evidence that HCoV-229E changed significantly when it was transmitted, but the same cannot be said of the MERS virus.

"The MERS virus is a strange pathogen: smaller, regionally restricted outbreaks, for example in hospitals, keep occurring. Fortunately, the virus has not adapted well enough to humans, and has consequently been unable to spread globally up to now," said Drosten.

The bad news is that since the common cold can spread between humans, MERS will be likely to do the same.

"Our current study gives us a warning sign regarding the risk of a MERS pandemic – because MERS could perhaps do what HCoV-229E did," Drosten added.

Thankfully, a MERS vaccine is scheduled to start clinical trial next year.

The study is published in full at the National Academy of Sciences.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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