Science

Strain of coronavirus prevalent in pigs can replicate in humans: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on October 14, 2020 Published on October 14, 2020

SADS-CoV shows a higher rate of growth in intestinal cells found in the human gut

A strain of coronavirus that has recently distressed the swine industry has the capability to spread in humans as well, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina.

The coronavirus strain — swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV) — emerged from bats and has infected swine herds across China since it was first discovered in 2016.

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The researchers noted that the virus was efficiently replicated in human liver and gut cells. SADS-COV is also distinct from two circulating common cold alphacorona viruses in humans, HCoV-229E and HCoV-NL63, according to the findings published in the journal PNAS.

The authors of the study believe that such outbreaks will also harm the pork industry as the virus is causing life-threatening symptoms, including diarrhoea and vomiting, in piglets.

The authors observed that a wide range of mammalian cells, including primary human lung and intestinal cells, are susceptible to this infection. SADS-CoV shows a higher rate of growth in intestinal cells found in the human gut.

Caitlin Edwards, a research specialist and master of public health student at UNC-Chapel Hill said: “It is impossible to predict if this virus, or a closely related HKU2 bat strain, could emerge and infect human populations. However, the broad host range of SADS-CoV, coupled with an ability to replicate in primary human lung and enteric cells, demonstrates potential risk for future emergence events in human and animal populations.”

Potential remedy

The researchers believe that broad-spectrum antiviral remdesivir can be a potential cure for SADS-CoV.

Working with Gilead Sciences, remdesivir was developed by the Baric Lab to combat all known coronaviruses, including SADS-CoV.

Edwards stated: “Promising data with remdesivir provides a potential treatment option in the case of a human spillover event. We recommend that both swine workers and the swine population be continually monitored for indications of SADS-CoV infections to prevent outbreaks and massive economic losses.”

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Published on October 14, 2020
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