CPS together with the far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) in Vladivostok, opened an international Center of molecular technologies. Its main objective is to track biological threats coming from East Asian countries — China, Korea, and Japan. In addition to research projects, the Center will train virologists, bacteriologist and infectious diseases. How important is the creation of such a “police virus” and whether the Russians be afraid of bio-terrorists, “the Tape.ru” said the Professor of the School of Biomedicine, far Eastern Federal University, head of laboratory of Virology FNTS Biodiversity of the far Eastern branch Academy of Sciences, doctor of biological Sciences Mikhail shchelkanov.
“Ribbon.ru”: Bioterrorism is fake or real?
shchelkanov: don’t want to scare anyone, but the talk of bioterrorism is quite relevant. Any infectious agent with proper use can turn into a biological weapon. Fortunately, there are not so many skilled professionals who could produce and effectively use such weapons. In my estimation no more than five to seven thousand.
And as soon as there is a serious epidemic situation, immediately appear rumors about the artificial origin of the pathogen. The most famous example is the human immunodeficiency virus and Ebola Zaire Zaire. The Internet is full of information that these viruses were “made” whether in American or in the Soviet secret labs — it’s who prefer. Another popular example of this kind is stories that bribed officials world health organization in 2009 specifically declared pandemic influenza A new genotype of subtype H1N1 (“swine flu” — approx. “Of the tape.ru”), to give money to pharmaceutical companies.
But this is only speculation or is there proven cases of deliberate manufacture deadly viruses?
I Want to emphasize that all high-level professionals know the “handwriting” of each other, you know, what you do and what approaches are used by leading laboratories around the world. If murder will out. It’s like with nuclear weapons. The main motto for scientists-virologists: if you want peace, prepare for war. The demonstration that the country really possesses the modern technologies and relevant competences, — the best prevention of acts of bioterrorism. So it was in Soviet times. And now.
to Construct a new virus de novo — it is theoretically possible, but is now ineffective. Easier to engage in breeding viral strains with the desired properties or finding in the nature of a rare virus.
And distribute them?
the Efficient dissemination of virus — specific scientific and applied problem. Confirmed official information about what the virus uses someone deliberately, no. But unintentional cases — a huge number.
for Example, now in the Philippines are raging disease of coconut palm kadang-kadang and cinemagia. Both diseases cause the death of plants. Over the past 50 years because of this destruction of tens of millions of coconut trees in the Philippines and the Islands of Oceania.
moreover, these diseases had almost become a cause of ethnic conflict with far-reaching consequences. The fact that on the Philippine island of Luzon, farmers have noticed an obvious pattern: palm trees were killed only those owners of plantations that belonged to the nation of Bicol, while from Tagalog (another nation) trees do not get dry. Local and concluded that the damage induced Tagalog sorcerers.
the Case went to a serious conflict, because Bellanca constituting an ethnic minority, suspected of trying to squeeze them off the island. Intervened virologists and found that the infection spreads cutting edge machete with which to cut the fruit from the palm trees. Plantation owners, naturally, prefer to hire workers who speak the same language, and bellzy brought viruses tribesmen from neighboring Islands.
But for a person palm virus safe?
In the literal sense of the damage to health of course he does not, however, economic losses are huge. It is estimated that the Philippines risk losing up to 60 percent of coconut plantations, which would entail the loss of at least one billion dollars. For smaller island States the damage is comparable with the level of government revenues.
Filovirus able to plunge the world into economic collapse. Just imagine, for example, what is the figure for South-East Asia. The main breadwinner! But there are two viruses, which when combined action is able to completely destroy a rice crop. What? Fortunately, the plants had to adapt filoviruses infections than us and save.
Palm trees, coconuts, rice — all this is too far from Russia, so many as a threat these viruses are not perceived.
actually this is a mistaken point of view. The boundaries are erased. For example, exotic for Russia in the middle of last century the African plague of pigs is currently being discussed in the administrations of Russian regions, almost if not more than the problem of epidemic influenza. The reason is clear: for pigs, the disease is almost one hundred percent lethal. Owners of large pig farms may incur huge losses, so do to best protect yourself. However, usually think more about their companies than about the surrounding nature-territorial complexes.
In the last couple of decades, the Russians are actively visiting foreign countries for different purposes. Especially in fashion, tourism to exotic places. Rescues the fact that Russia is one of the world’s best systems of biological security, which is inherited from the Soviet era. For the year in our country registered 100-300 cases of imported disease. Especially powerful coming from Asia. They are quickly detected, properly diagnosed and localized expeditiously, to outbreaks do not get it. It’s like a permanent maneuvers to counter acts of bioterrorism.
And that’s because Asia is the main stream infection, the main stronghold of the biological security of the country decided to make the far East bordering on China?
the far East is really special with biogeographical point of view the region. Here is a high degree of endemism (uniqueness — approx. “Of the tape.ru”). Most of the endemics we are reminded of the Amur tiger and far Eastern leopard, however, the endemism characteristic of pathogens of viral diseases and their vectors.
the Manchurian landscape is the center of genetic diversity for many pathogens. In the Pacific ocean a huge number of rookeries, which are associated with populations of ticks. Of them isolated a number of viruses potentially dangerous to humans: Paramushir, Sakhalin, Rukutama, Bay, seal, commander, sea of Okhotsk, the Gulf of Patience. And do not study them here is a means to destroy the system of biological security of the Russian Federation.
From 1962 to 1989, scientists constantly monitored Islands of the sea of Okhotsk on the subject of the little-studied viruses. Then the work was interrupted. We resumed the planned ecological and virological expedition to the small island after 20 years of oblivion for science and have found many interesting things.
Not only. Our expedition visited recently on the island of seals. We opened a new kind of barbed lice that live in the nostrils of seals, and, it seems, a new species of Rickettsia (type of bacteria — approx. “Of the tape.ru”) transmitted by these insects lastlogin mammals. Rickettsia is known to be generally involved in many diseases, including humans. For example, the causative agent of typhus is Rickettsia. At the beginning of the last century this bacterium, which endured lice, raging around the world. Typhus have been eliminated mostly because people stopped EN masse to wsiwyg. But for wild pinnipeds, we are such a high quality of life to provide while not.
That is, humanity is once again threatened typhus epidemic, which could begin in the far East?
No, of course, can not speak. Barbed lice along with their portable Rickettsia are parasitic only on pinnipeds animals. And only in the wild: for example, in our seaside aquarium we this parasitism is not allowed!
the Study of Rickettsia circulating among pinnipeds, enables us to take a broader look at the evolution of this genus of bacteria and, consequently, a deeper understanding of the peculiarities of their circulation and pathogenicity in the human population. But speaking of parasitic microorganisms, you should always remember about the possibility of overcoming their inter-species barrier and adapt to new hosts. For example, the ancestors of all epidemic strains of influenza A are influenza a viruses of birds.
What are the scenarios of countering biological threats?
a lot of Them, not all can be told. For example, we have the technology of virus-free plants. Take the potatoes: stores often sell vegetables bumpy irregular shape. Offhand we can say that this potato is not less than 8-12 filoviruses. If you put a potato, the harvest will be even more hideous in appearance and even more inappropriate varietal characteristics. But then you can use something like this: find a clean, uninfected cell, it is grown healthy plant, it will give a good yield when the corresponding organoleptic properties. For example, in our laboratory a greenhouse the yield is 780 kilograms per hectare, and from local farmers at 120-180 kilograms. The difference is obvious.
Plants acquire immunity against viruses?
Representatives of the plant Kingdom do not have the mechanisms of humoral and cellular immunity, which is inherent in animals. When I was talking about virus-free potatoes, it meant that its virus-free status is not eternal. After landing on a real bed, he will gradually be infected with a virus that will overtake it with the help of insects, root nematodes, dust on the legs of the field mice or the soles of the Shoe an agricultural worker. And the source of the virus may be adjacent field, where it grows severozapadny potatoes, or wild plants, which are natural reservoirs of filoviruses.
after a few years the seed Fund are guaranteed to have to change. And it is important to have molecular diagnostic test-systems allowing indication of viruses. This is the basis of virus-free plants. In different regions the strain composition of a virus may differ from each other. The situation in the far East, for example, differs from that in the European part of Russia and in Western Siberia.
agriculture is generally a lot of the potential dangers. And just molecular methods in the study of viruses and their diagnosis would be very helpful. Now the critical situation in beekeeping. The number of bees, their biological diversity and productivity of honey sharply reduced. And not only in Russia but around the world.
Bees are sick. And oddly enough, contribute to this sad phenomenon makes the Internet. Beekeepers are introduced in the network, on specialized forums and regular mail exchange between a highly productive bee Queens. Among them may be infected individuals. Often the buyer finds out about it only a few weeks. As a result of such exchanges the viruses of bees are spreading rapidly. These viruses are now not only in Russia. China has a terrible shortage of bees, and this affects the yield. To at least to save something, the Chinese run themselves, instead of bees to pollinate Apple trees — the usual paint brushes!
security Method is that you destroy the cancer instances and propose to keep only healthy?
Yes. In addition, using molecular techniques to save endangered species while controlling their biological diversity. For example, today we are completing the sequencing of the world’s first mitochondrial genome of a wild Amur tiger. Prior to this study only tigers kept in zoos.
Today was 467 Amur tigers. Our major objective is to make sure that each tiger had a genetic passport, so we knew his pedigree. Here, you will need to sequence not just the genome of the mitochondria, which is transmitted through the maternal line, but the Y chromosome, which is retained in the male line. The tiger population is small, so it is important to understand how they are far from disappearing.
If we see that tigers have begun to degenerate, we can introduce into their population of “fresh blood”. But it was really “fresh blood” — for that you need to know the composition of genes and find the most suitable for the introduction of the animal.
would Not such an interference with nature, on the contrary, to a decrease in biological diversity?
Molecular methods as time and do intervention in the natural processes of the most controlled! We need to understand it. That is why humanity today, in the face of most developed countries, including, naturally, Russia, creates gene banks. But, on the other hand, when we are talking about the same crops are more important for us a set of guaranteed properties, namely, yield, protein content and other nutrients.
With the help of new technology, scientists are now actively “recognize” viruses, new pathogens, but drugs for many diseases are still there. In this respect, some progress is there?
the Russian science works in this direction. In the context of understanding mechanisms of pathogenesis and evolution of microorganisms in General — we are now actively studying the viruses of the Ocean. This is a world trend, and we’re at the forefront. To bet with us in this direction, perhaps, few will be able.
it is obvious today that antibiotic-resistant microorganisms begin to dominate sensitive. And a huge problem — where to take new drugs. The work of scientists is conducted in different directions, and one of the most promising — it is just endemic of the Far East.
for Example, seaweed red and brown. Preliminary results are promising. Fraction of the algae actively inhibit bacteria, including resistant. On land, the obvious things have already been discovered and used. In the ocean we are just starting to move towards unknown horizons!