Attention: A New Virus Has Been Found

  • New virus has 90% unknown genes.
  • It was discovered by French and Brazilian scientists.
  • These types of viruses can lead to death.

The new virus has been found by French and Brazilian scientists as a collaborative project. The abstract has been published in the Biorxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), a free online archive and distribution service for unpublished preprints in the life sciences. It is operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a not-for-profit research and educational institution.  The new virus is called Yaravirus. It is named after a character from the Brazilian mythology.

Lara, also spelled Uiara or Yara or Mãe das Águas, is a figure from Brazilian mythology based on ancient Tupi and Guaraní mythology. The word derives from Old Tupi yîara = y + îara = lady of the lake. She is seen as either a water nymph, siren, or mermaid depending upon the context of the story told about her.

According to the abstract, what makes the virus unique is that 90% of the genes the virus contains have never been described prior. The Yaravirus genome is different, enabling it to synthesize proteins and perform DNA repair, as well as DNA replication, transcription, and translation. Until now, it was believed that viruses are not capable of any of the above — they are inert and can only infect their hosts.

Genome in the fields of molecular biology and genetics, a genome is the genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA. The genome includes both the genes and the noncoding DNA, as well as mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA. The study of the genome is called genomics.

The scientists working on the project believe the virus is the first isolated case of an unknown group of amoebic viruses or a potentially distant species of giant virus that has somehow evolved into a reduced form. The amoebic viruses usually translate into the an infection of the intestines with a parasite. Hence, the parasite is an amoeba, which is a single-celled organism. People can get this parasite by eating or drinking something that’s contaminated with it.

Certain amoebic viruses caused a large number of deaths worldwide. Entamoeba histolytica is a tiny pathogen that can easily lead to death.  The single-celled parasite, which is the size of a dust mite, already infected 50 million people worldwide. The death toll from it annually is close to a 100,000 people. It was discovered the virus eats live cells in the body. The most common way of getting infected is through contaminated water. It does pose a huge issue on certain continents.

Pathogenic free-living amoebas can survive away from the host or don’t even need to have a host. Another very dangerous amoeba is N. fowleri, which naturally lives in warm freshwater bodies, feeding on bacteria until humans encounter it in the water and it enters through the nostrils. It is deadly and will eat brain cells, which in turn will lead to a painful death.

The question remains, what would be the new specifications and the ramifications of the newly discovered virus?

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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