Geneva Principal Investigator Dr. Gustavo Palacios at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disesases (USAMRIID) co-authored a study on bat immunity to the lethal Marburg filovirus that was recently published in the prestigious journal CELL. Over the course of its three-decade history, CELL has been a particularly selective journal, only publishing research of significance that helps form the core of life science research. To this day, CELL remains at the forefront of promoting innovative biological research programs that continue to reexamine and redefine what we know in different areas of science.
The relevance of studying bats in disease research comes from the fact that they have the ability to harbor a number of viruses that are deadly in human populations without exhibiting the disease’s notable symptoms. In order to study potential differences in antiviral systems between bats and humans, researchers utilized the genome of Rousettus aegypitacus, which is a host of the Marburg virus. Findings from the study lead the research team to believe that bat’s sheer ability to tolerate viral disease is a key component in allowing bats them to host viruses without symptom, rather than possession of significant antiviral defense mechanisms. Further research in this study will involve the comparison of antiviral responses in bats and nonhuman primates with the ultimate goal of developing therapeutics to combat the Marburg virus and other filovirus infections.