As astounding as it may sound, not all viruses are villains. Nature created all forms of life in balance. While some strains are hazardous and fatal, there are several which offer a benefit to humankind!
Let’s take a look at the TOP TEN beneficial viruses.
These viruses infect bacteria, as their name implies. They are found everywhere in the soil and environment as well as in the human gut. They have the potential to be used as therapeutics against many pathogenic bacteria and replace antibiotics.
A particular virus which infects a grown fungal endophyte on grass has shown to give this grass the superpower of resisting extra high temperatures.
Scientists experimented with this virus on other plants and gained success. Tomatoes with them can grow at a temperature of 60 degrees Celcius, while those with no virus were not able to survive.
Vesicular Stomatitis Virus
This is a virus that basically pathogenic for horses and other animals. It may be transmitted to humans and cause blisters in the mouth, but it has made it in the headlines for its oncolytic capacity. It is a promising treatment for cancer as it is non-pathogenic in the case of humans.
These are a group of common viruses that cause mild and temporary symptoms. Some of them cause Bronchitis, Pneumonia, cold, and stomach infections.
On the other hand, researchers have stepped across a particular strain, HAdV-52, which binds to carbohydrate moieties on the surface of cancer cells and renders them unable to proliferate. This point offers a promising strategy to fight off cancer as well as stimulate one’s own immune system against cancer.
These viruses are of particular interest to virologists. In experimentation with mice, some strains have shown to help in the making of immune T cells as well as decrease the effect of pathogens that cause diarrhea and damage to gut bacteria.
Some endogenous retroviruses may be the reason human beings don’t lay eggs. Baffled? Let me explain. Some scientists believe it to be true that, along the journey of evolution, a primitive human ancestor contracted such a virus, which caused mutations in the genetic code that enable us mammals to give live birth.
Infection with one of the strains, MHV-68, has shown to increase resistance against Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria which causes food poisoning.
This virus helped Edward Jenner develop the concept of vaccination in 1796 when he noticed that milkmaids who had contact with cows were safe from smallpox. His vaccination helped achieve the milestone of smallpox eradication two centuries later, so it does not indeed belong to the category of villains!
This is a member of the Flaviviridae family and also called hepatitis G. The odd bit about this little guy is the fact that, if it infects a person alongside HIV, AIDS progress very slowly and improves chances of survival.
Arc gene virus
This gene is responsible for learning processes in human beings. It communicates via sending genetic material from one neuron to the other. This method is similar to that of a virus, and it seems that we inherited our ability to learn and form conscious thoughts because of the genetic material of some ancient brain virus! More research is going on.
“Viruses are, without a doubt, the coolest things I have ever encountered. They do truly amazing things with very little genetic information. I was always a little disturbed at the bad rap they get, so it was stimulating of me to find good ones.”Marilyn J. Roosenick, American Society for Microbiology.
Also, read The underrated prodigy- Rosalind Franklin
Aniqa Mazhar is a graduate of QAU in Biochemistry. She has taught sciences to O levels and is currently planning for her MS in Food Technology. Aniqa’s hobbies are reading, watching movies, writing, calligraphy, long walks, and nature photography.