Unlike other known viruses the SIRV2 virus can survive extreme and subzero temperatures. It can even resist ultraviolet radiation. Researchers from the University of Virginia have studied this indestructible pathogen and believe that it can be used in genetic therapy in order to help treating deadly diseases.
The SIRV2 which was discovered more than ten years ago can survive in almost all sorts of environments and temperatures and it offers scientists a blueprint which could be the key to treating human diseases. Edward Egelman from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics of the UVA, one of the authors of the study which was published in the journal Science, said that it is strange and interesting to observe how DNA and proteins can be combined in a manner which remains stable even in the harshest conditions which one could think of. He also added:
“We’ve discovered what appears to be a basic mechanism of resistance-to heat, to desiccation, to ultraviolet radiation. And knowing that, then, we can go in many different directions, including developing ways to package DNA for gene therapy.”
The SIRV2 virus infects Sulfolobus islandicus, microorganisms which can be found in acidic hot springs which can reach even 80°C (175 degrees Fahrenheit). The researchers found out similarities between the virus and the spores which the bacteria create in order to resist in such inhospitable environments. Since the DNA was discovered to be completely in the A-form it means that there is a common mechanism which protects the DNA.
The researchers were able to analyze the defense mechanism which characterizes SIRV2 using the advanced technology of the UVA Titan Krios electron microscope, a scientific facility which is located in Fontaine Research Park.
The DNA can be degraded in various ways by viruses and bacteria so its protection is crucial in fighting diseases. This discovery can help scientists develop a way to deal with the protective systems in the human body.
Egelman explained that if they can understand how the bacteria spores function they can also discover new abilities to destroy them. According to him the findings of this research should be taken into account since they can contribute to helping scientists discover ways to improve resistance against bacteria. In order to combat diseases and spores the first thing which one needs to know is its features and its activity.
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