Many deadly diseases may be closer than ever to curing as scientist have discovered an odd new virus that can even survive boiling acid.
Dubbed “SIRV2”, the newly found virus is almost impossible to kill, surviving even in nearly boiling acid. But it’s not just extreme heat that it has a high degree of repellant force towards, you can add drought and ultraviolet radiation to then list as well.
While the prospect of such a life from may seem worrisome at first, scientists have managed to extract DNA from the virus’ nearly indestructible armor and are hoping to use to combat various human diseases.
Scientists say that the invincible virus is the missing link between the living and the non-living and that it serves as a protective force-field for DNA and proteins, making it the ideal candidate for taking genetic engineering and gene therapy to the next step.
Edward Egelman, one of the researchers working on the study, gave a statement saying that “What’s interesting and unusual is being able to see how proteins and DNA can be put together in a way that’s absolutely stable under the harshest conditions imaginable”.
He adds that by discovering what appears to be a basic mechanism of resistance-to heat, to desiccation, to ultraviolet radiation, scientists can now go in many different directions, including developing ways to package DNA for gene therapy.
The importance of finding effective packaging for DNA delivery is not to be overlooked as the human body has many ways of fighting off foreign DNA, such as viruses.
The SIRV2 virus survives hostile environments by entering and colonizing an microorganism known as Sulfolobus islandicus, which lives in acidic hot springs where temperatures rise up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling temperatures). This results in spores that scientists believe may even be responsible for deadly, horrific diseases such as Anthrax.
Egelman explained that seeing and understanding how these bacterial spores work will potentially give researchers new abilities to destroy them.
What’s interesting is that the virus forces its DNA into a protective structural state known as the “A-form”. It is the same the methods used by bacterial spores to survive in inhospitable environments, and scientists used to believe it could only be induced unnaturally, in a lab in viruses.
The discovery of SIRV2 was possible thanks to Titan Krios electron microscope. It’s one of very few high-tech, special microscopes in the world that enables an in-depth visual analysis of the infinitesimally small, awe-inspiring and sometimes horrifying universe.
Scientists at the University of Virginia are being credited for the discovery. They were excited and fascinated by the virus, and believe that the study is a huge step forward in the field of biochemistry.
Less realistic applications that SIRV2 could prove to have include generating a serum for immortality.
Image Source: egi.eu