NEW YORK October 30, 2013 EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on local conservation and global health issues, announced the discovery of a new SARS-like coronavirus (CoV) in Chinese horseshoe bats. Ten years after the SARS outbreak, EcoHealth Alliance scientists and an international group of collaborators have uncovered genome sequences of a new virus closely related to the SARS coronavirus that erupted in Asia in 2002 2003, which caused a global pandemic crisis. For the first time ever, the group was able to isolate the live SARS-like virus from bats allowing scientists to conduct detailed studies to create control measures to thwart outbreaks and provide opportunities for vaccine development. The research team involved scientists from China, Australia, Singapore, and the U.S. and the results were published today in the journal Nature. "Our discovery that bats may directly infect humans has enormous implications for public health control measures," stated co-senior author Peter Daszak, PhD, President of EcoHealth Alliance. Dr. Daszak is also principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Science Foundation (NSF) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) grant, and leads EcoHealth Alliance's work on the USAID PREDICT project, both of which funded the current work. "Since 2003 there has been disagreement about the origin of the virus that directly evolved into human SARS-CoV, the causative agent of the first emerging pandemic threat of the 21st century. Even though our team reported that bats are natural reservoirs of SARS-like coronaviruses in 2005, we have been searching for this missing link for 10 years, and finally we've found it," said Dr. Zhengli Shi, Director of Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and co-senior author on the paper.
The research team isolated and cultured a live virus that binds to the human SARS
|Contact: Anthony M. Ramos|