March 4, 2014
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has revealed that scientists have reactivated a virus found buried in the Siberian permafrost. After thawing it out they found it retained its infectious ability. The French scientists say that the virus poses no danger to either animals or humans.
The virus, Pithovirus sibericum was first discovered 10 years ago. The last time it infected anything was more than 30,000 years ago, but in the laboratory it has sprung to life once again.
Tests show that it attacks amoebas, which are single-celled organisms, but does not infect humans or other animals.
Co-author Dr Chantal Abergel, also from the CNRS, said: “It comes into the cell, multiplies and finally kills the cell. It is able to kill the amoeba – but it won’t infect a human cell.”