Get ready to be a little more alarmed at the world in general, cause now they have something called "vampire viruses" proliferating in the wild:
Scientists have observed 'vampire viruses' for the first time - pathogens that latch onto other viruses in order to replicate themselves.
Researchers have known for decades, in theory, that some viruses prey on other viruses, unlike most that self-replicate.
Now, under a microscope, a team of researchers in Maryland has watched this process that involves a 'satellite' and 'helper' virus.
This is never the kind of scientific discovery you want to celebrate. Discover the Higgs boson? Great! Crack the solution for gravitational propulsion? Eureka! Observe a vampire virus under a microscope?
Yeah no thanks.
Here's a shot of this nasty little bugger:
(The vampire virus is the little purple hanger-on.)
The scientists discovered that the "satellite viruses" contain "a gene that allows them to integrate into the host cell's genetic material after they enter the cell."
This "enables the satellite to reproduce whenever a helper enters the cell from then on." As well, the host cell "copies the satellite's DNA and its own when it divides."
Who knows where this discovery could lead? Can we use these vampires to destroy nasty pathogens before said pathogens make a meal out of us?
I dunno. Maybe we should treat them like all vampires:
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