Researchers have discovered an ancient virus and named it Mollivirus sibericum. Jean-Michel Claverie, a professor of medical genomics and bioinformatics at the University Of Mediterranean School Of Medicine in Marseille, France said “Actually, there’s already a science-fiction novel inspired by one of our last (discoveries), look on Amazon.”
The virus discovered is the one of the four viruses to be isolated and grown in a lab by French scientists working from a sample obtained from the Siberia. The sample is nearly 30,000 years old and was first obtained by some Russian scientists.
Mollivirus sibericum is 0.6 microns long, making it a giant virus. Size wise, it is way bigger than modern viruses and even some bacteria and it also has more genes comparatively. M. sibericum has more than 500 genes, compared to just 9 in HIV. One of the previously discovered giant viruses, Pandoravirus, has 2,500 genes. Scientists are still figuring out what that means for a virus, and they should be dealt with.
“A few viral particles that are still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, lead researcher of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research.
Although the new virus is not dangerous to human beings, scientists think that there could be other such viruses frozen in ice and when the ice melts, they could prove themselves dangerous.
“We cannot rule out that distant viruses of ancient Siberian human (or animal) populations could re-emerge as arctic permafrost layers melt and/or are disrupted by industrial activities,” the paper research states.
“We’re not stupid enough to revive a virus that may pose a threat to human health. We use amoeba as bait to fish out whatever viruses may be in that specific sample. But every once in a while, we see them die and that’s when we know somebody must be killing them. This way, we know which to isolate from the others.” Claverie added.