Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mathematical Model Used To Explain Viral Extinction

Date:
April 28, 2009
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Researchers have developed a mathematical model which demonstrates that a mild increase in the mutation rate of some viruses can reduce their infectivity, driving them to extinction.

Electron microscope image of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infecting BHK-21 cells.
Credit: CBMSO (taken by Veronica Martin laboratory Esteban Domingo, with the collaboration of Andrew G. and M. Rejas, Electron Microscopy Services)

Two researchers from the Spanish Centre of Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC) have developed a mathematical model which demonstrates that a mild increase in the mutation rate of some viruses can reduce their infectivity, driving them to extinction. The study, published recently in Europhysics Letters, could have clinical uses in the medium term.

"The model we present shows how simple evolutionary mechanisms can cause the extinction of populations of fast mutating pathogens, such as certain viruses," co-author of the study and Centre of Astrobiology researcher Susanna C. Manrubia explained to SINC.

The results of the research, which have been published this year in Europhysics Letters, suggest that strategies can be devised to fight viral infections by gaining a better understanding of their population dynamics. A moderate increase in the mutation rate of such viruses could become a therapy alternative to the massive use of drugs.

The scientists experimented with the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which produces persistent infections in house mice and is sometimes transmitted to humans. This virus does not normally cause serious problems, but occasionally results in death among people with a weak immune system or abortion if infection occurs during pregnancy.

"The high mutation rates of these viruses allow them to maintain a reservoir of variants so as to adapt to possible environmental changes and to challenges such as immune system attacks on behalf of the host or target cell heterogeneity," Manrubia says.

However, this high rate of mutation also produces a high number of unviable mutants, capable of surviving at the expense of viable forms. In order to create this situation and raise the natural rate at which viruses mutate, scientists add mutagen. In the case of LCMV, fluorouracil is used.

By adding mutagen, the ability of the virus to infect cells disappears, although its replicative ability is not affected. The researchers believe that this occurs because the number of unviable mutants, which can replicate but not infect, act "like a cancer" that destroys the system from the inside.

"The mathematical model formally characterizes the extinction of infectivity in these viruses following experimental results and demonstrates three things: this occurs with small amounts of mutagen, which is much more likely if there is only a small number of viral genomes inside a cell and, most importantly, it is a new mechanism for viral extinction that could potentially have clinical uses in the medium term" Manrubia says.

Manrubia developed the model alongside Jaime Iranzo, who joined the Centre of Astrobiology recently. Iranzo received the Archimedes Prize for the best research paper in the field of physics for this study. The prize is awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation to university students or recent university graduates.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Iranzo and S. C. Manrubia. Stochastic extinction of viral infectivity through the action of defectors. EPL (Europhysics Letters), 2009; 85 (1): 18001 DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/85/18001

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Mathematical Model Used To Explain Viral Extinction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090424073905.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2009, April 28). Mathematical Model Used To Explain Viral Extinction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090424073905.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Mathematical Model Used To Explain Viral Extinction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090424073905.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins