A new virus theoretically capable of infecting human cells has been discovered in Russia. A member of the sarbecoviruses, a family to which the Covid-19 virus belongs, the Khosta 2 virus recalls the urgency of developing a universal vaccine against all sarbecoviruses.
A new virus related to Covid-19 has been discovered in bats in Russia. Called Khosta-2, it is capable of infecting human cells, by the same route as Covid-19, announces a team of researchers. Although this virus has not currently caused any disease, its discovery is a reminder of the importance of preventive surveillance and the development of vaccines that are versatile enough to adapt to these highly infectious families of viruses.
Sarbecovirus Khosta-1 and Khosta-2
You know the family of coronaviruses, but probably less the subgenus to which all “SARS” viruses belong, including SARS-CoV-1 from SARS 2003 and SARS-CoV-2 from Covid-19: sarbecoviruses. The latter now have new members, the Khosta 1 and 2 viruses discovered in 2020 in Russian bats, near Sochi National Park.
“Efforts to identify the origins of Covid-19 have resulted in the discovery of numerous animal sarbecoviruses, most of which are only distantly related to known human pathogens and do not infect human cells.”, explain the researchers of this new work from 2022, published in the journal . Unfortunately, they show that if the Khosta-1 virus cannot infect human cells, Khosta-2 can. Specifically, the set of surface proteins called “RBD” of Khosta-2, which all other sarbecoviruses have in different versions, is compatible with human cells. The gateway is the same as that of Covid-19, whose RBD domain (which is part of the famous Spike protein) binds to the ACE2 protein on the surface of our cells.
Khosta-2 is not dangerous… For now
Of course, these results are far from immediately alarming. The fact that the Khosta-2 RBD can infect human cells does not mean that the virus can do so effectively enough to be dangerous. especially what[…]