Chatty viruses provide new insight for developing novel anti-viral drugs

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SCIENTISTS from Israel have ‘accidentally’ made a remarkable discovery that viruses could talk to one another.

Viruses generally hijack the “machinery” of bacterial cells and multiply themselves until the cells explode and die. In other instances, they simply inject their genetic material into the bacteria, stay dormant and multiply only when triggered by any environmental cues.

The team from Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Rehovot, Israel, led by Rotem Sorek(pix), had initially intended to study how bacteria communicate and alert each other of viral attacks. Bacterial communication, termed as “quorum sensing”, helps bacteria to behave accordingly, based on their surrounding population – which is often essential when it comes to dividing themselves or to infect their host. It is only by accident that Sorek and his colleagues spotted these chatty viruses.