30,000 Year Old Siberia Virus Comes Back To Life

Karloff

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30,000 Year Old Siberia Virus Comes Back To Life



There's more where that came from, says Professor Jean-Michel Claverie.

The pathogen Pithovirus sibericum lay dormant in the Siberian permafrost for 30,000 years, but became infectious as soon as it thawed out, say French researchers in a National Academy of Sciences study. "This is the first time we've seen a virus that's still infectious after this length of time," says Professor Jean-Michel Claverie of the University of Aix-Marseille, and he warns that exposing what lies beneath the permafrost is "a recipe for disaster."

Pithovirus sibericum destroys single-cell organisms. It invades the cell, multiplies and finally eliminates its host, but it is not capable of infecting a human. That was the first thing the team verified, after it discovered that the virus was active. It's called a giant virus because, unlike others of its kind, this one can be seen under a microscope. Pithovirus sibericum, at 1.5 micrometers, is the biggest giant virus known to man.

It lasted as long as it has because the permafrost is an excellent preserver; as an environment it lacks oxygen, is very dark, and very cold. The National Academy of Sciences study that discusses this event can be found here [http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/02/26/1320670111].

While the risk to humans from Pithovirus sibericum is nil, the team led by Claverie and Research Director Chantal Abergel believes there is a serious concern. After all, Pithovirus sibericum is still viable after 30,000 years; what else might also be hidden in the permafrost? Claverie describes it as "a non-zero probability that the pathogenic microbes that bothered [ancient human populations] could be revived."

"If you start having industrial explorations, people will start to move around the deep permafrost layers. Through mining and drilling, those old layers will be penetrated and this is where the danger is coming from." It doesn't help that, since the 1970s, the permafrost has reduced in size and thickness, and thanks to climate change is likely to reduce still further.

Though there are many thousands of viruses out there, the proportion of those viruses that can affect mammals, let alone humans, is vanishingly small. The chance that one particular virus which infected, say, Neanderthal man, and which could therefore affect us, lies out under the Siberian ice waiting to be unearthed is incredibly unlikely. However it would seem that incredibly unlikely is not quite the same thing as impossible, and Pithovirus sibericum demonstrates just how far from impossible it may be.

"At least a stock of vaccine should be kept, just in case," says Claverie and Abergel.

Source: BBC [http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-26387276]


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CardinalPiggles

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They dug too deep. When will people learn.

It's pretty crazy to think about though, 30,000 year old virus' wiping us out would just be embarrassing.
 

AndrewC

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Then it adapts, jumps the species barrier and turns us all into zombies!
 

Karloff

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I read this yesterday before leaving work.

I then inexplicably went home and bought Plague, Inc [http://store.steampowered.com/app/246620/].

Zombie amoebae mind viruses!

That aside, Plague Inc is actually rather fun. I don't care for all the "unlocking" though.
 

CriticalMiss

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Sure, it's only infecting single-celled organisms now but one day it will jump to huskies. Luckily there is a documentary about this sort of thing.


We need to bring Snake MacReady out of retirement.
 

DocZombie

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Karloff said:
"At least a stock of vaccine should be kept, just in case," says Claverie and Abergel.
Just to clarify for those who don't follow the link to the BBC piece, the researchers are referring to the retention of vaccine stocks to Smallpox... Smallpox has been eradicated in the wild since 1977, but there a remote chance that there's a corpse somewhere, frozen in permafrost or similarly preserved, of someone who died of smallpox. In years to come, this body gets dug up and smallpox enters the wild again - potentially disastrous if vaccine stocks haven't been retained.

EDIT: Did a quick Google search and came up with this [http://www.livescience.com/2403-climate-threat-thawing-tundra-releases-infected-corpses.html] from 2008...
 

Erttheking

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There is only one appropriate response for this.

http://www.sourballpython.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/ItsAlive.jpg

Seriously though, the implications of this could go either way. Another thing that could lead to great achievements, or biological warfare.
 

Queen Michael

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Nice to see that the first step of my plan has succeeded. I'd tell you about step two, but then I'd have to kill you.
 

TiberiusEsuriens

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CriticalMiss said:
Sure, it's only infecting single-celled organisms now but one day it will jump to huskies. Luckily there is a documentary about this sort of thing.


We need to bring Snake MacReady out of retirement.
Beat me to it. Darn you!
 

Hazy992

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Goddammit Russia! First you invade Crimea, then you unleash prehistoric giant viruses, what's next?! Sharks with laser beams on their heads? Blocking out the Sun?
 

Thaluikhain

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DocZombie said:
Just to clarify for those who don't follow the link to the BBC piece, the researchers are referring to the retention of vaccine stocks to Smallpox... Smallpox has been eradicated in the wild since 1977, but there a remote chance that there's a corpse somewhere, frozen in permafrost or similarly preserved, of someone who died of smallpox. In years to come, this body gets dug up and smallpox enters the wild again - potentially disastrous if vaccine stocks haven't been retained.

EDIT: Did a quick Google search and came up with this [http://www.livescience.com/2403-climate-threat-thawing-tundra-releases-infected-corpses.html] from 2008...
Ah, that makes much more sense.

Hazy992 said:
Goddammit Russia! First you invade Crimea, then you unleash prehistoric giant viruses, what's next?! Sharks with laser beams on their heads? Blocking out the Sun?
Eh, they actually talked about the opposite of blocking out the sun a few years ago, if you recall, putting giant mirrors up to reflect sunlight onto the Earth.
 

Karloff

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thaluikhain said:
Hazy992 said:
Goddammit Russia! First you invade Crimea, then you unleash prehistoric giant viruses, what's next?! Sharks with laser beams on their heads? Blocking out the Sun?
Eh, they actually talked about the opposite of blocking out the sun a few years ago, if you recall, putting giant mirrors up to reflect sunlight onto the Earth.
soooo...a death ray then...this is supposed to make us feel better how ? :p
 

Bindal

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Sleekit said:
thaluikhain said:
Hazy992 said:
Goddammit Russia! First you invade Crimea, then you unleash prehistoric giant viruses, what's next?! Sharks with laser beams on their heads? Blocking out the Sun?
Eh, they actually talked about the opposite of blocking out the sun a few years ago, if you recall, putting giant mirrors up to reflect sunlight onto the Earth.
soooo...a death ray then...this is supposed to make us feel better how ? :p
Sounds more like an anti-vampire-measure (which 'convientely' would erase night from existence).
 

Rakor

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So how swiftly till someone makes a movie of this situation?

It's gonna be one nasty cold virus!....ya know, cause it's frozen and.....things......

Nailed it.

[insert puns of low temperatures and diseases here]
 

SinisterGehe

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Eldritch Warlord said:
Viruses aren't organisms so it didn't really "come back to life." It just remained viable.
I was just about to get my angry stick out for this. Viruses are not alive - they can't come back to life. They can only become active. They can also go inactive as many of them do.

Could this be fixed because it make the writer look rather dumb.
Because he even quoted:
"This is the first time we've seen a virus that's still infectious after this length of time,
 

nuba km

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AndrewC said:
Then it adapts, jumps the species barrier and turns us all into zombies!
actually form the description of what it does it would be more along the lines of the blob.
 

Scarim Coral

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I betting people will now use this as a plotline for future horro movies.
 

AndrewC

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nuba km said:
AndrewC said:
Then it adapts, jumps the species barrier and turns us all into zombies!
actually form the description of what it does it would be more along the lines of the blob.
You never know, could be blob zombies!