BREAKING! University Of Glasgow Discovers New Pathogen That Can Evade Immune System Comprising Of Fused RSV And Influenza Virus Particles!
Researchers from MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, School of Infection and Immunity – United Kingdom have identified a new pathogen that can evade the human host immune system, The new pathogen is hybrid virus comprising of fused viral particles from the RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and the IAV (influenza A virus) viruses.
To date, it is already known that interactions between respiratory viruses during infection affect transmission dynamics and clinical outcomes.
In order to identify and characterize virus–virus interactions at the cellular level, the study team coinfected human lung cells with influenza A virus (IAV) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Super-resolution microscopy, live-cell imaging, scanning electron microscopy and cryo-electron tomography revealed extracellular and membrane-associated filamentous structures consistent with hybrid viral particles (HVPs).
The study team found that HVPs harbor surface glycoproteins and ribonucleoproteins of IAV and RSV. HVPs use the RSV fusion glycoprotein to evade anti-IAV neutralizing antibodies and infect and spread among cells lacking IAV receptors.
The study team showed that IAV and RSV coinfection in primary cells of the bronchial epithelium results in viral proteins from both viruses co-localizing at the apical cell surface.
The study findings define a previously unknown interaction between respiratory viruses that might affect virus pathogenesis by expanding virus tropism and enabling immune evasion.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Nature Microbiology. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-022-01242-5
Although the study was based on events in a laboratory setting, scientist are warning that such a pathogen or pathogens are already most probably in the midst of the human population but current diagnostics are not able to pick them up. This could also help explain mysterious outbreaks of respiratory diseases and pneumonia in various geolocations.
Thailand Medical News
would further like to add that as a result of a change in the human immune landscape due to previous exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and even COVID-19 induced immunodeficiency, we can expect many other dormant and also active pathogens to take advantage of this new immune landscape and start evolving rapidly and even possibly engaging in recombinant or reassortant events.
This is the first time that such viral cooperation has ever been observed involving the common respiratory viruses fusing together to form a hybrid virus capable of evading the human immune system, and infecting lung cells.
The study team believe the findings could help to explain why co-infections can lead to significantly worse disease for some patients, including hard-to-treat viral pneumonia.
In America alone, it is estimated that about 9 to 21 million people get infected by the Influenza virus each year.
The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading caus
e of acute lower respiratory tract infections in children under five years old, and can cause severe illness in some children and older adults. In America it causes about 58,000 pediatric hospitalizations per year.
Though co-infections ie where a person is infected with both viruses at the same time are now thought to be relatively common, it is unclear how these viruses would respond if they found themselves inside the same cell.
Lead researcher, Dr Joanne Haney from the MRC-University of Glasgow centre for virus research told Thailand Medical News
, “Respiratory viruses exist as part of a community of many viruses that all target the same region of the body, like an ecological niche.”
She further added, “We need to understand how these infections occur within the context of one another to gain a fuller picture of the biology of each individual virus.”
In order to investigate, the study team deliberately infected human lung cells with both viruses and found that, rather than competing with one another as some other viruses are known to do, they fused together to form a palm tree-shaped hybrid virus ie with RSV forming the ‘trunk’, and influenza the ‘leaves’.
Senior author, Professor Dr Pablo Murcia MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, School of Infection and Immunity, added, “This kind of hybrid virus has never been described before. We are talking about viruses from two completely different families combining together with the genomes and the external proteins of both viruses. It is a new type of virus pathogen.”
Alarmingly, once formed, the hybrid virus was also able to infect neighboring cells even in the presence of antibodies against influenza that would usually block infection. Although the antibodies still stuck to influenza proteins on the hybrid virus’s surface, the virus merely used neighboring RSV proteins to infect lung cells instead.
Professor warned, “Influenza is using hybrid viral particles as a Trojan horse.”
Besides helping the viruses evade the immune system, joining forces may also enable them to access a wider range of lung cells. Whereas influenza usually infects cells in the nose, throat and windpipe, RSV tends to prefer windpipe and lung cells, although there is some overlap.
This can possibly increase the chances of influenza triggering a severe, and sometimes fatal, lung infection called viral pneumonia, commented Dr Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds who was not involved with the study. Though he cautioned that more research was needed to prove that hybrid viruses are implicated in human disease.
He added, “RSV tends to go lower down into the lung than the seasonal flu virus, and you’re more likely to get more severe disease the further down the infection goes. It is another reason to avoid getting infected with multiple viruses, because this ‘hybridization’ is likely to happen all the more if we don’t take precautions to protect our health.”
Importantly, the study team showed that the hybrid viruses could infect cultured layers of cells, as well as individual respiratory cells.
Dr Griffin added, “This is important because the cells are stuck to one another in an authentic way, and the virus particles will have to go in and out in the right way.”
The study team next plans to validate whether hybrid viruses can form in patients with co-infections, and if so, which ones.
Professor Murcia added, “We need to know if this happens only with influenza and RSV, or does it extend to other virus combinations as well. My guess is that it does. And, I would hypothesize that it extends to animal [viruses] as well. This is just the start of what I think will be a long journey, of hopefully very interesting discoveries.”
The study findings also have serious implications especially in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where millions of people are getting infected with various variants and sub-lineages of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and at the same time there a variety of other viruses such as herpes HPV, HIV, Influenza, RSV, adenoviruses etc all in circulation among subsets of the population. It is inevitable and only a matter of time before more concerning viruses debut.
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