Horseshoe bat coronaviruses related to COVID virus study

Horseshoe bats found in caves in Laos carry coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2, researchers from the Pasteur Institute and the University of Laos have found.

The study is pre-printed and is being considered for publication by a Nature journal.

The researchers looked for viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 and found three of the bats that had receptor-binding domains that were very similar to those found in the virus. Bloomberg reported. The domains are part of the spike protein, which allows the virus to bind to the human enzyme ACE-2. The study noted that no other virus similar to the COVID-causing microbe has been shown to use this enzyme to infect human cells.

The researchers named the pathogens BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236.

This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as new coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 isolated from a patient in the US virus particles, appears to rise from the surface of cells grown in the laboratory.  The tips on the outer edge of the virus batch (credit: NIAID-RML / FILE PHOTO / HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)This undated transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, also known as new coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19 isolated from a patient in the US virus particles, appears to rise from the surface of cells grown in the laboratory. The tips on the outer edge of the virus batch (credit: NIAID-RML / FILE PHOTO / HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The results support the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic began due to the genetic crossover of a bat coronavirus.

According to Bloomberg, Marc Eloit, head of pathogen detection at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and co-authors said the coronaviruses they found are “the closest ancestors to SARS-CoV-2 known so far.”

“These viruses may have contributed to the origin of SARS-CoV-2 and may in themselves pose a future risk of direct transmission to humans,” he added.

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