What do we know about viruses? Thriving and developing over billions of years, these tiny organisms can infect animals, plants, and even bacteria. Viruses are famous for their aggressive and infectious nature. Most of them cause a variety of diseases, from mild colds to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) - more commonly known as SARS.
How viruses work
To survive, the virus needs a host - livingan organism capable of providing the virus with everything necessary for continued existence. When a virus enters the host cells, it captures its cellular mechanisms, releasing new viral particles. These particles subsequently infect an increasing number of cells and as a result cause disease.
But not all viruses are bad. Some are capable of actually killing bacteria, while others are fighting more dangerous viruses. And in the human body, as you know, protective bacteria live - probiotics.
Who protects us
Bacteriophages (or “phages”) are viruses that infect and destroy certain bacteria. They are found in the mucous membrane of the digestive, respiratory and reproductive tracts.
Slime is a thick, jelly-like material. The main task of mucus is to make sure that harmful bacteria do not get inside and protect the body's cells from infection. According to recent studies, phages present in mucus are part of the human immune system. They protect the body from invading bacteria.
Today, scientists have learned to genetically modifyphages. Individual phage strains are tested against harmful bacteria. Thanks to genetically modified phages, drugs for the treatment of a variety of bacterial diseases will appear in the future. They can be safely administered orally or applied directly to wounds.
It even happens: This gel is made entirely of viruses and can destroy bacteria and plastic
Note that clinical trials of intravenous administration of phages are ongoing. By the way, recently this topic was hotly discussed in our Telegram chat.
Some viruses that we encounterprotect us from being infected by dangerous pathogens. For example, latent (hidden) herpes viruses can help natural human killer cells (a special type of white blood cell) to identify cancer cells and cells infected with other pathogens.
There is another interesting example - it is known thatnoroviruses (e.g., intestinal flu) protect the intestines of mice when antibiotics are given. Protective intestinal bacteria killed by antibiotics have made mice susceptible to intestinal infections. But in the absence of good bacteria, these noroviruses were able to protect their hosts.
Thanks to the development of technology, we were able to betterunderstand how the complex world of microbes works. Scientists have found that in addition to beneficial bacteria, beneficial viruses are present in the intestines, skin, and even blood. Among other things, it is likely that in the future such modified versions of viruses will be effective in the fight against cancer cells.
Although microbes are part ofof the human body, our understanding of these amazing components is incredibly small. Unlike the potential for understanding viral infections and how to fight them, it is huge: virus research can shed light on the evolution of the human genome, genetic diseases, and the development of gene therapy.