The retrovirus spreading through the koala population is bad news. But studies of the koala infection have led scientists to a surprising discovery: a “second immune system” in the species, according to research published on Saturday in the journal Cell.
This system, which the researchers think exists in all mammals, has a role fighting off viruses that are in the same class as deadly human diseases such as HIV. This “second immune system” may illuminate new ways to treat HIV, said Damian Purcell, who heads up virology research at the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.
Viruses related to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have infected Old World monkeys as far back as 16 million years ago, according to a new study. The research provides insight into how monkeys evolved and adapted to the simian version of HIV, and why some viruses can jump from one species to another.