A virus, a small infectious agent, can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms. This article briefly introduces some basic knowledge about virus.
The current 2019 new Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak in China and its subsequent spread to multiple countries across four continents has triggered a major global health crisis, which makes everyone around the world focus on the virus. What exactly is a virus? Why is it such a big threat? This article will briefly introduce these questions.
What is a virus in biology?
Virus is a non-cellular life form, mainly composed of nucleic acids and proteins. It does not have metabolic capacity itself and needs to rely on the host cell’s metabolic system to complete proliferation. In other words, a virus is a protein shell that encloses genetic materials. While the protein shell provides structural support and protection, it also helps the virus find host cells.
What is the current new Coronavirus?
Recently, a virus called SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2) caused an epidemic with pneumonia as the main symptom. Since the early outbreak data in Wuhan, China, it has been subsequently spread to all provinces of China and numerous countries. SARS-CoV-2 is a single positive-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Coronaviridae family, which encompasses the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The incubation period of SARS-CoV-2 is generally 3-14 days, and the longest even reached 24 days. Early symptoms are mostly fever, fatigue, cough, and then, dyspnea gradually appears. It has the ability to pass from person to person, and currently, no specific medicines are available to help.
Can humans conquer the virus?
Smallpox is a severe infectious disease caused by the smallpox virus. It is by far the only infectious disease that has been eliminated worldwide by humans. As one of the oldest and most infectious diseases, smallpox is highly contagious and severely threatening. Severe viremia manifests itself after infection, and high mortality of smallpox is also confirmed. The most basic and effective method of prevention is smallpox vaccination.
Are viruses all harmful?
Since the 1940s, viruses have become an important material for molecular biology research. The study of viruses is not only of great significance for the prevention and treatment of human, animal, and plant diseases, it can even be used to treat diseases.
For example, oncolytic virus (OV), a type of virus, is found to infect tumor cells and can multiply in cancer cells, eventually causing tumor cells to lyse, break, and die. The earliest report of oncolytic virus in the world was due to the fact that a cervical cancer patient was found to have tumor regression after being infected with the rabies virus.
“Currently, many different OVs are being evaluated in clinical trials, including adenovirus (AdV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), vaccinia virus, Newcastle disease virus, measles virus, and reovirus. They have shown to be non-toxic, and can induce strong anti-tumor immunity.” According to scientists from Creative Biolabs, a famous institute and experienced supplier in the biotech market to offer OV-related services.
In short, not all viruses are bad to human beings, and in-depth research on viruses has helped us better understand humans and nature. However, facing life-threatening SARS-CoV-2, everyone should be vigilant. Always wear a mask when going out, do not go to crowded places, and go to hospital in time if developing a fever. It is believed that human beings can finally defeat SARS-CoV-2 and greet the arrival of the spring of 2020.