Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
AHA News: Understanding the Basics of 'Herd Immunity'Multiple Measures of Social Distancing Required to Slow Coronavirus: StudyCough, Fever, Fatigue? Head to CDC's Online Coronavirus Symptom CheckerThree Countries Have Kept Coronavirus in Check; Here's How They Did ItTrial Finds Acupuncture May Help Prevent MigrainesSevere COVID-19 Might Injure the HeartWhy Are Teens, Millennials Ignoring Coronavirus Warnings?An Expert's Guide to Fact-Checking Coronavirus Info OnlineLivestock, Poultry Safe From Coronavirus: ExpertU.S. Hospital Beds Were Already Maxed Out Before Coronavirus PandemicFDA Warns of Defective EpiPen DangersPoll Finds High Anxiety in the Time of CoronavirusCould Robots Be Deployed to Front Line in Fighting COVID-19?COVID-19 May Force Some Cancer Patients to Delay TreatmentWhat People With Parkinson's Need to Know About COVID-19How to Weather Social Isolation During Coronavirus PandemicCOVID-19 Infection Likely Worse for Vapers, SmokersWhen Arteries Narrow, Chest Pain Can Come Earlier for Women Than MenLoss of Sense of Smell Could Be Early Sign of Coronavirus InfectionMany Drugs Already Approved by FDA May Have Promise Against COVID-19The Other Side of COVID-19: Milder Cases, Healthy RecoveryAs Coronavirus Myths Multiply, Experts Sort Fact From FictionA Third of Americans Ordered to Stay at Home; Summer Olympics Postponed for One YearFDA Warns Americans to Beware of Fake COVID-19 Test KitsTaking Steroids for Rheumatoid Arthritis, IBD? Your Odds for Hypertension May RiseWhat Does a Self-Quarantine Look Like?National Guard Activated in 3 States as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 34,000U.S. Coronavirus Cases Pass 26,000, With 1 in 4 Americans Under 'Shelter-in-Place' OrdersRaking Your Leaves to the Edge of Your Yard an Invitation to TicksNew Drug Helps Shrink Inoperable Tumors in KidsCoronavirus Crisis Should Put Elective Surgeries on Hold, Doctors' Group SaysAlmost Half of Coronavirus Patients Have Digestive SymptomsNearly 40% of Hospitalizations in U.S. COVID-19 Cases Involve Adults Under 55Healthy Living at Home to Ward Off CoronavirusWhat You Need to Know About Coronavirus If You Have AsthmaStudy Suggests COVID-19 Might Follow Seasonal PatternTrump Signs Massive Relief Package Into Law as U.S. Coronavirus Cases Reach 10,000AHA News: A Look at Allergies and Heart Health, With Tips to Endure Pollen Season Amid Coronavirus FearsNew Coronavirus Wasn't Made in a Lab, Genomic Study ShowsWho's Most at Risk From Coronavirus?The Most Effective Ways to Kill Coronavirus in Your HomeCoronavirus Cases Hit All 50 States, as U.S. Death Toll Tops 100AHA News: Working Out While Staying Safe During the Coronavirus OutbreakMedical Groups Say Heart Meds Don't Worsen COVID-19 SymptomsBelly Fat Can Lead to a Sudden Attack of Pancreatitis: StudyWith New Boost From Medicare, 'Telemedicine' Steps Up to Fight CoronavirusAnother Study Finds COVID-19 Typically Mild for KidsKeeping Coronavirus Anxiety at BayThink You Have COVID-19 Symptoms? Here's What to DoUndetected Cases May Be Driving Coronavirus Spread, Study Finds
Questions and AnswersVideosLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Cancer
Men's Health
Women's Health

New Coronavirus Wasn't Made in a Lab, Genomic Study Shows

HealthDay News
by -- E.J. Mundell
Updated: Mar 18th 2020

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, March 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Despite internet rumors to the contrary, the new coronavirus arose from natural causes and was not concocted in a lab, according to scientists who conducted a detailed genomic examination of the virus.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 illness, shows zero evidence of being artificially engineered, reported a team who published their findings March 17 in Nature Medicine.

"By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," study co-author Kristian Andersen, an associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Scripps Research, said in an institute news release.

The research was a collaborative, international effort: Andersen was joined by scientists from Columbia University in New York City, the University of Sydney in Australia, and Tulane University in New Orleans.

As of Tuesday, the World Health Organization reports almost 185,000 known cases of COVID-19 worldwide, including 7,529 deaths.

As the pandemic spreads, rumors of nefarious plots of scientists creating SARS-CoV-2 in a lab have proliferated.

But Andersen's team believes their investigation proves otherwise. They pointed out that coronaviruses have long existed, causing illnesses of varying severity.

The first severe coronavirus-linked illness -- severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) -- emerged in China in 2003, while another -- Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) -- arose in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

While both of those epidemics died out, COVID-19 continues to spread worldwide. Early on in the pandemic, Chinese scientists mapped the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and made that data freely available to scientists worldwide.

Using that genome map, Andersen and colleagues examined the genetic template for proteins on the outside of the virus, called spike proteins. SARS-CoV-2 uses these proteins to latch onto the host cell.

Digging deeper, the researchers looked at the evolution of key components of the spike protein.

One component, called the receptor-binding domain (RBD), is a kind of "grappling hook" that SARS-CoV-2 uses to grip human cells. The RBD of the new virus is incredibly effective at binding to the cell -- so effective, in fact, that the scientists believe it could only have evolved through natural selection.

Another piece of evidence supporting a natural origin for the virus comes from what the researchers called the "backbone" of SARS-CoV-2 -- its basic molecular structure.

The team reasoned that if scientists were going to synthetically create a new virus in a lab, they'd need to borrow its molecular underpinnings from a virus already known to make people sick.

But the molecular backbone of SARS-CoV-2 bears no resemblance to any known coronavirus that already infects humans. Instead, it closely resembles coronaviruses found in bats and armadillo-like mammals called pangolins -- adding weight to the theory that the new virus made a recent jump in China from animals to people.

"These two features of the virus, the mutations in the RBD portion of the spike protein and its distinct backbone, rules out laboratory manipulation as a potential origin for SARS-CoV-2," Andersen said.

Josie Golding directs epidemics research at the U.K.-based Wellcome Trust. Commenting on the new findings, she said they are "crucially important to bring an evidence-based view to the rumors that have been circulating about the origins of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) causing COVID-19."

The researchers "conclude that the virus is the product of natural evolution, ending any speculation about deliberate genetic engineering," Golding added in the news release.

So how did the virus now sweeping the globe emerge?

According to Andersen's team, like SARS and MERS, SARS-CoV-2 probably evolved in another animal and mutated along the way to make the jump into people.

The virus is extremely similar to coronaviruses observed in bats, but probably moved into another mammalian host (for example, pangolins), before moving to humans.

The genetic key, according to the scientists, would have been an evolutionary modification in the RBD cellular "hook" while the virus was still in another species. Once that happened, SARS-CoV-2 became instantly infectious once it jumped to infect people.

However, in another scenario, the evolution of the illness-triggering RBD mechanism may have occurred only after SARS-CoV-2 infected humans.

These first infections -- perhaps jumping from a pangolin to people -- would have gone undetected because at this stage the virus did not trigger illness. Only later did the virus evolve to become capable of causing COVID-19, the researchers theorized.

Right now, it's tough to confirm which of the two scenarios is the correct one, Andersen's team said. But if the first example is true -- a virus that's ready to cause disease making the leap from animals to people -- then it's possible that future outbreaks, involving new strains of coronavirus, might still be ahead, the scientists warn.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the new coronavirus.




Facebook

Amazon Smile

 

Children and Adult services are available now with no wait time.  

Please contact HBH at 860-548-0101, option 2.

 


powered by centersite dot net