A family of viruses, already endemic in wild African primates, is “ready” for infect humanswarned an investigation by the University of Colorado at Boulder (United States).
According to the agency Europe Pressthis virus causes fatal Ebola-like symptoms in some monkeys and its characteristics are similar to Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Although this type of arterivirus is already considered a critical threat to macaque monkeys, no human infections have been reported to date, and it is still not certain what impact the viruses in people.
According to the authors of the research, another pandemic is not predictable, but they asked the world health community closely monitor this virus and conduct a study of simian arteriviruses, in both animals and humans.
“This animal virus has figured out how to gain access to human cells, multiply and escape some of the important immune mechanisms that we would expect to protect us from an animal virus. That’s pretty weird. We should pay attention to it,” says Sara Sawyer, author of the study.
The new study focused on arteriviruses, which are common among pigs and horses but poorly studied among nonhuman primates. Furthermore, it demonstrates that a molecule, or receptor, called CD163, it is key in the biology of simian arteriviruses, as it allows the virus to invade and cause infection of target cells.
They also discovered that the virus was extraordinarily skilled to latch onto the human version of CD163, burrow into human cells and quickly make copies of itself.
Like HIV and its precursor, the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)Simian arteriviruses also appear to attack immune cells, disabling the main defense mechanisms and taking root in the body for the long term.