Virus Locked In Siberian Ice For 30,000 Years Is Revived In Lab
Scientists at a laboratory in France
have thawed out and revived an ancient virus found in the Siberian permafrost, making it infectious again for the first time in 30,000 years.
It isn't dangerous to humans, but it's reanimation raises questions about what else might be lurking under the ice, say the French and Russian team that brought it back to life. There work is in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, or PNAS
"The revival of such an ancestral amoeba-infecting virus ... suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health," the scientists write.
Jean-Michel Claverie, a study author from the National Center of Scientific Research in Aix-Marseille in France, tells the BBC that exposing such ice layers and possible pathogens contained within is "a recipe for disaster."
"If it is true that these viruses survive in the same way those amoeba viruses survive, then smallpox is not eradicated from the planet — only [from] the surface [of the planet]," Claverie says. "By going deeper [into the permafrost], we may reactivate the possibility that smallpox could become again a disease of humans in modern times."