A virus in bats in Russia has been found to bind to human cells, in a discovery being monitored by public health experts who have been hyper-vigilant about zoonotic diseases since the COVID-19 pandemic.
In another finding from research published in the peer-reviewed medical journal PLOS Pathogens, the Khosta-2 virus appears to be resistant to COVID-19 vaccines and antibodies.
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But there’s no certainty the virus causes actual disease in humans, says an expert.
The research was conducted by a global group of immunologists looking at two sarbecoviruses found in horseshoe bats in Russia.
Sarbecoviruses are respiratory viruses. They belong to the same family but have a different “viral lineage” from SARS-CoV-1 and 2, the latter of which causes COVID-19, according to the researchers.
Hundreds of sarbecoviruses have been detected, mostly in bats, but most are unable to infect humans.
However, the researchers found that the Khosta-2 virus interacts with the same human cell entry receptor as SARS-CoV-2.
“We tested how well the spike proteins of these bat viruses infect human cells under different conditions,” the research paper states.
“We found that the Khosta-2 virus spike could infect cells similar to human pathogens using the same entry mechanisms, but was resistant to neutralization by serum from individuals who had been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.”
University of Queensland infectious disease expert Paul Griffin said the discovery came amid increased “surveillance” of zoonotic (animal-to-human) diseases since COVID-19 spread around the world.
He says it shows that just because Khosta-2 has the ability to bind to human cell receptors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Khosta-2 would infect humans.
“There are many different things that have to happen for a virus to spread from an animal species to humans,” Griffin told 7NEWS.com.au.
“It’s not just that bonding ability. It then has to cause disease in order for it to be of any importance.
“It also needs to be easily transferrable.
“What it shows is that it has some prerequisites to be able to cause infections in humans, and the worrying element is when these viruses get mixed together and create a recombinant virus that could combine some of those other properties and have the potential.” cause disease.”
Griffin said immunology research is increasing amid environmental changes like climate change, deforestation and urban expansion, which mean animals and humans live closer together.
“We’re seeing a big shift in what’s happening with these so-called zoonotic infections as we change the environment around us and increase the potential for interactions,” he said.
He and the research team have called for more research into Khosta-2.
https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/khosta-2-covid-linked-virus-in-russian-horseshoe-bats-found-to-be-transmissible-to-human-cells-c-8331973 Khosta-2: COVID-linked virus in Russian horseshoe bats transmissible to human cells