Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Viruses can make zombie cells, very interesting.

  1. Nov 27, 2004 #1
    I just read the cover article in the most recent issue of Scientific American about viruses. The article was pretty interesting; it gives a short overview of the basics of what viruses do and how they do it and talks about their role in evolutionary history of organisms. The article also mentions that viruses can actually re-animate dead eukaryotic cells. The article stated that if a eukaryotic cell has it's nucleus removed or destroyed, a virus containing DNA can actually infect the cell, and using the remaining organelles of the cell, bring the cell back to life in order to replicate the virus's DNA.

    That got me thinking, has there been any study/research done to make viruses to re-animate dead cells in the human body? It'd seem that it wouldn't be enormously hard to make a virus that would zombify dead cells into making useful cells where cells have been destroyed...
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2004 #2

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    From what you've described here, I don't think the cell would be functioning properly, but as just a virus manufacturing plant. I think you underestimate the task of cramming all the necessary DNA for normal functioning of a cell into a virus, and still leaving enough of the virus' DNA intact to get it into the cell as you wish. We can use viral vectors to deliver limted numbers of genes to cells, but there was a young woman who died on one clinical trial a few years back, and that brought up lots of ethical issues, and I think shut down that trial. The trouble is keeping the viral vector from becoming pathogenic in the presence of wild helper viruses.

    Does the article cite a source for a full research paper on the topic? Usually Scientific American publishes on things recently published in Science or other top-tier journals, but provides a version for the lay reader. If they don't cite a full source, even the names of the authors they cite as doing the work would mean I could look up what you're referring to. There may be more to it than you could get from a Sci Am article.
     
  4. Nov 27, 2004 #3
    Yeah, the cell wouldn't come back to life and do it's normal stuff, it'd just be a virus making plant. That makes sense that I had underestimated how much DNA would be needed for a regularly functioning cell...

    The author of the artical is Luis (or Louis, it's spelled both ways) P. Villarreal. At the end of the article, they cite:

    Lateral Gene Transfer or Viral Colonization? by Victor DefFilippis and Louis Villarreal from Science, Vol 293, page 1048; August 10, 2001

    Though it's important to note that the whole article isn't about viruses taking over dead cells, that part is in a little box that takes up half of one page and only vaguely relates to the main article, so I'm not sure how much of the stuff I'm talking about would be in any of those works.
     
  5. Nov 27, 2004 #4

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I hope that unless you were reading a very old issue of Sci Am that the citation is a citation of their older works, not the one the article is based on (dated 2001) :biggrin: Thanks, that should be a starting place to find the original article. It sounds interesting.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Viruses can make zombie cells, very interesting.
  1. Making stem cells (Replies: 0)

Loading...