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Study reveals how novel coronavirus infects humans

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 23, 2020
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Chinese researchers have identified a key protein essential for the novel coronavirus to infect humans, providing valuable information to help evaluate the public health risk.

龙虎娱乐网址They also suggested the natural reservoir of the virus is likely to be bats.

Although the full genome sequence has been released, the origin and transmission mechanism of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), as denoted by the World Health Organization, remain unclear.

龙虎娱乐网址So far, six whole sets of 2019-nCoV genomes have been released.

龙虎娱乐网址In a study published online by SCIENCE CHINA Life Sciences on Tuesday, researchers from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other Chinese research institutes compared the genome sequences of the 2019-nCoV to coronaviruses known to infect humans: SARS-CoV and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)-CoV.

龙虎娱乐网址They found the 2019-nCoV is about 70 percent similar to the SARS-CoV and 40 percent similar to the MERS-CoV.

Analysis showed the 2019-nCoV belongs to the Betacoronavirus group of enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses that infect wild animals, herds and humans, resulting in occasional outbreaks and infections without apparent symptoms.

龙虎娱乐网址In the evolutionary tree, the 2019-nCoV is quite close to the groups of SARS and SARS-like coronaviruses, with the bat coronavirus HKU9-1 as the immediate outgroup.

It is likely these coronaviruses share a common ancestor resembling the bat coronavirus HKU9-1.

Bats being the native host of the 2019-nCoV "would be the logical and convenient reasoning, though it remains likely intermediate host(s) were in the transmission cascade from bats to humans," said researchers.

They noted there is a considerable genetic distance between the 2019-nCoV and the human-infecting SARS-CoV, and even greater distance from MERS-CoV.

龙虎娱乐网址The genetic analysis raised another question: does the 2019-nCoV adopt the same mechanisms as the SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV used for transmission across species and humans. Or does it have its own?

In the SARS-CoV, spike protein (S-protein) is essential for the virus to attach to the host cell receptor.

The researchers evaluated the 2019-nCoV S-protein's ability to interact with human cell receptors. They found that although the binding between the 2019-nCoV and the human cell receptor is weaker than SARS-CoV, it is still considered to be a strong one.

龙虎娱乐网址The researchers noted that the 2019-nCoV S-protein supports strong interaction with human cell receptors, posing a significant public health risk for human transmission.

Chinese health authorities announced Thursday that 571 confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had been reported in 25 provincial-level regions in the country by the end of Wednesday. The cases have resulted in 17 deaths, all in central China's Hubei Province.

龙虎娱乐网址Overseas, one case has been confirmed in the regions of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, as well as in the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea respectively, and three in Thailand.

A total of 5,897 close contacts have been traced, the commission said, adding that among them, 4,928 are under medical observation while 969 others have been discharged.

Based on the current knowledge, the incubation period of the virus can be as long as about 14 days, according to a prevention and control plan released Wednesday by the NHC.

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