The parasite of our parasite is our friend?!

I don’t know how to introduce it!! I have only few minutes to tell you simply that all what we teach you is already old, very old!! All what is published in new textbooks is also old. Even what is in journals is already old! The third millennium’s science is really quick.

In the advance online section of the journal Nature comes the news: viruses are not safe from infection! There is now a “virophage”: a virus that attacks a bigger virus. The first virophage has been named Sputnik (after a prototypic satellite).

the first virophage (Nature)

Meet Sputnik: the first virophage (image from Nature)

(image source)

We were talking about the pathogen’s pathogen, the bacteriophage! Here comes the pathogen’s pathogen’s pathogen!

Read more here and here.

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7 Responses to “The parasite of our parasite is our friend?!”

  1. samar Says:

    I don’t understand why variophage could suggest that a virus is alive.
    I agree that viruses are alive since they have a certain tropism, they have their own host, they replicate and express genes..and act like any other living.so why their susceptiblity to infection is the issue suggesting life?
    should anything exposed to infection be “alive”?
    or because an infectious matter will not survive except in living organism?

  2. MICRO WRITERS » Sputnik, the first Virophage: I’m on the Radio, I’m on the Video Says:

    […] the infected amoebae. They named it Sputnik after the first man-made satellite. It’ll be the first isolated “Virophage“. The story won’t stop at this discovery. The discovery of the virophage will […]

  3. pharma2010 Says:

    it is gooooooooooooood news really

    thanks you doctor sooooo much

    and it is nice of you to tell us

    and i would say nice to see you Mr. Sputnik

    and i would like to see your family

  4. ahmed said Says:

    verrrrrrrrrrry good news!!!!
    finally we can kill virus,but i want to know if there is aresearch about using virophage in treatment of viral diseases?
    i think that using virophage in treatment of viral infection will be the most greatest discovery in microbiology.

    please,i wait for more news about virophage

    thanks for your hard work

  5. RKA Says:

    Samar,
    there is a big discussion about this question “are viruses alive?” on the Nature (journal) website, that you can follow. However, I don’t think viruses fulfill all the classical definition of a “living organism,” but it is humans who put these definitions; Nature (mother Nature) does not follow our definitions. We can say that viruses are not cellular, and that’s it. Also, I guess that virophage cannot “infect” a virus that is not host-associated.

    Ahmed,
    the virophage was just discovered less than two weeks ago. It’s still early to look for a research using it to treat viral diseases: first you have to discover a virophage that is specific to a human virus; then, you have to test whether it kills it or not; then, you have to see if the virophage does not cause a tougher disaease.

    For example, bacteriophages have been discovered about 100 years ago, and still phage therapy is not fully approved.

  6. samar Says:

    what about using them as a vectors for delivering gene of interest in gene therapy?
    As you said Dr Ramy, it needs more investigation, but
    I don’t think variophage will carry some infectious genes (this is due to the fact that viruses are usually more simple, having the genes essential for their survival)
    Conventional viruses which already have been used in gene therapy carry some infectious genes. Although these infectious genes must be deleted before administration, the patient is still exposed to getting infection and this is one major obstacle the clinical application of gene therapy facing.Variophages may solve this problem?

    This Sputnick is attacking mamavirus which only attacks ameoba?so will it be different when the variophage’s host will be a human virus?

    is it possible if we find some variophages which are specific to viruses attacking human, they will carry the genes they need for defending their lives from an extra host (human body) ??
    Or will it be hidden from our immune system, and this will be an excellent “delivery system”?

    I know it is too early for answers, but I don’t think it is for asking.

  7. Noha El Hosseiny Says:

    dear prof. Aziz,
    first i wish to thank u again for the wonderful lectures u have given us last year…we really miss micro all of us this term.
    About this virophage topic: last year 2nd term we’ve learnt that it was found that AIDS patient who suffer a hepatitis G co-infection usually suffer less symptoms than the patients with no hepatitis co-infection, so does this have anything to do with virophages, or is it just a type of interference between the two viral infections without one of the viruses using the other as a host?
    it is probably completely diff…lol,i know,but it just hit me while i was reading the topic when they wrote,:”and is the first time a virus has been seen to propagate at the expense of a viral host.”
    anyhow,it’ll be nice to have a possible cure for some of the deadliest viruses like AIDS someday,though we believe that there’s no illness that has no cure…
    thanks.

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