New Blood-Transmitted Human Virus Found
A New Blood-Transmitted Human Virus Has Been Discovered
A team of scientists from Columbia University have identified a new human virus transmitted through the bloodstream, called hepegivirus 1 (or HHpgV-1).
Long after the discovery of HIV and hepatitis C during the 70’s and 80’s, when thousands of people around the world were allegedly infected with the viruses after receiving blood transfusions, the team of scientists have been on the hunt for other transfusion-transmissible agents which we might want to know about.
Using highly sensitive sequencing techniques to look for changes in the viromes – the viral equivalent of the microbiome within people given blood transfusions, within a total of 44 individual samples, the team was able to isolate HHpgV-1 and found that the virus belonged to the same family as hep-C and another virus called human pegivirus.
While hep-C has been alleged to cause liver disease and cancer, the team found that the latter virus, previously called hepatitis G virus, actually seems to help HIV patients live longer. Not only do 3 of its proteins seem to block HIV replication, but the immune systems of individuals co-infected with these viruses appear to avoid excessive activation which would otherwise help HIV flourish.
Furthermore, the scientists state that in both patients identified as holding HHpgV-1 , samples taken the day before transfusion and around 8 months later were both negative for the virus, suggesting that not only is the virus possibly transmissible by transfusion, but patients managed to clear it in that time frame.
Neither of the individuals found to be infected presented any kind of associated disease afterwards.
In a later wave of research taken from a group of 106 individuals that had received blood transfusions for the bleeding disorder hemophilia, researchers identified 2 more patients that had been infected with HHpgV-1. This time both of the patients had persistent infections, with one lasting a minimum of 201 days and the other at 5.4 years. Yet again, once the infection was cleared, there were no further obvious illnesses linked to the former presence of HHpgV-1.
The findings are interesting but scientists urge caution.
IFL Science states, “HHpgV-1 hasn’t even been isolated or grown in tissue culture yet, nor do we know how prevalent it is in the general population.” A ‘known unknown’ to say the least.
What are your thoughts? Should we be cautious of the new virus? Does this raise your concerns for giving blood or receiving a blood transfusion, or is it further dialogue for fear mongering? Let us know. Join the conversation! Comment below, share on Facebook, and find us on Twitter using the hashtag #DMTalk.
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