Mass Spectrometry & Spectroscopy

How Many Viruses Pose a Threat to Humans?

Mar 12 2018 Read 1892 Times

From common colds to HIV/AIDS, viruses are a constant threat to humankind. Now, a team of scientists is proposing a radical new defence system that could help defend humanity against over a million different virus species.   

Generally, diseases are passed on from animals to humans. For example, the Ebola virus is thought to have stemmed from fruit bats. Once they infect humans they often spread so fast that modern medicine can't keep up, triggering an epidemic.

The ambitious Global Virome Project

The new defence system is based on the idea that if humans are armed with a virus database they would be able to control and prevent outbreaks. It takes a proactive approach and suggests that humans should start immunising against virus species that could eventually transition from animals to humans.

The concept has been named the Global Virome Project and stresses the importance of cataloguing all existing animal viruses, then assessing the risk of infection to humans. They also argue that the number of animal viral diseases passed onto humans is increasing exponentially as populations expand into new areas. With this in mind, they underscore that acting now is critical.

A proactive approach to virus prevention

The research was published in the journal Science, with the authors explaining that medics should actively arm themselves against potential threats, before they arise.  

“Following each outbreak, the public health community bemoans a lack of prescience, but after decades of reacting to each event with little focus on mitigation, we remain only marginally better protected against the next epidemic,” read an excerpt written by the authors.  "At the moment, we usually prepare for future outbreaks of infectious disease by looking at those viruses or bacteria, such as Ebola, that have already crossed over, and thinking about the circumstances where this could happen again."

Scientists warn against 1.67 million unknown viral species

Of course, a global project of this scale would come with a suitably large price tag. On top of known viruses, the authors the authors estimate there are approximately 1.67 million unknown viral species carried by mammals and birds. Of these, up to 800,000 could pose a risk to humans. To assess each virus independently would cost around US$7 billion. It's a huge figure, though the team also argue that epidemics like the 2003 SARS outbreak infected around 8000 people and cost up to US$30 billion.

Laboratory equipment plays a key role in helping scientists make medical breakthroughs. For a close look at the latest technology from Mettler Toledo don't miss 'Using UV/VIS Spectroscopy for Different types of Vitamin B12 Analysis'.

Read comments0

Do you like or dislike what you have read? Why not post a comment to tell others / the manufacturer and our Editor what you think. To leave comments please complete the form below. Providing the content is approved, your comment will be on screen in less than 24 hours. Leaving comments on product information and articles can assist with future editorial and article content. Post questions, thoughts or simply whether you like the content.


Digital Edition

International Labmate Buyers Guide 2018

June 2018

In This Edition Articles - Choosing the Optimum Plasma Spectrochemistry Technique for Measuring Elemental Impurities in Pharmaceuticals - Monitoring Airborne Molecular Contamination in Indoo...

View all digital editions

Events

INTERPHEX JAPAN 2018

Jun 27 2018 Tokyo, Japan

PREP 2018

Jul 08 2018 Baltimore, MD, USA

AACC Annual Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo 2018

Jul 29 2018 Chicago, IL, USA

HPLC 2018

Jul 29 2018 Washington DC, USA

M&M 2018

Aug 05 2018 Baltimore, MD, USA

View all events