Vampire Viruses :[
November 16, 2023 12:47 PM   Subscribe

"It may comfort you to know that, yes, viruses can actually get sick. Even better, as karmic justice would have it, the culprits turn out to be other viruses. [...] We frequently run into 'viruses of viruses,' but we recently discovered something new: a virus that latches onto the neck of another virus." Ivan Erill, Vampire viruses prey on other viruses to replicate themselves − and may hold the key to new antiviral therapies.
posted by mittens (13 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
(come for the vampire phages, stay for the embedded kurzgesagt video!)
posted by mittens at 12:49 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]

Mind Flayer and Mini Flayer just makes me think of the d&d monster holding a little squidbaby in a onesie.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 1:34 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]

That video is something. Who knew super bacteria were so scawy cute.

Really fun article, too. And there's nothing scary about the prospect of vampire bacteria being used as a treatment in humans. It isn't terrifying at all!
posted by tovarisch at 1:41 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]

Yes, this is the stuff found in a random puddle of goop in Poolesville, MD. For whatever reason, the Maryland subreddit is very proud.
posted by atomicstone at 2:32 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]

random puddle of goop in Poolesville

Does it kill rhinovirus? As that's rather on the nose.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:26 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]

And there's nothing scary about the prospect of vampire bacteria being used as a treatment in humans. It isn't terrifying at all!

Exactly, what could possibly go wrong?

Seriously, thanks for sharing this fascinating article. I had no idea such creatures exist, and never would have heard about this on my own.
posted by rpfields at 5:09 PM on November 16

Tiny nit: The prospect in the video linked in the article is to use virus (can’t remember the plural of virus) to kill bacteria, not vampire bacteria used to kill other bacteria. Phage therapy has been a thing for decades but not in the US under the FDA.

The article is about a small virus that attaches itself to the neck of a larger bacteria killing virus. Thus the vampire virus. Virus to virus vampirism, not virus to bacteria vampirism.

And I am using the word virus liberally, I should be saying Mobile Genetic Elements, which include virus, plasmids, satellites (the cute little mini vampires in the article), and other wonderful things found in all domains of life.

When I get anxiety from thinking too much about the large scale things in the cosmos like the Supervoid in Eridanus or the fact that 95% of everything is dark matter and dark energy that we have no fucking idea about, I find comfort thinking about this one lucky chemical reaction that happened somewhere on earth a few billion years ago and has not stopped ever since and has produced everything from vampire mini virus to baroque curlicued blobs of fat and protein that know about the Supervoid in Eridanus and have feelings about it.
posted by Dr. Curare at 5:59 PM on November 16 [15 favorites]

It is parasitism all the way down. Or just genetic information all the way down. I've looked into PICIs that infect phages and other parasitic genomic information that inserts itself into viral genomes. This is analogous to transposons and retroviruses that infect human cells and insert their genetic payload into ours for a free ride. There could be therapeutic applications if insertions could be engineered to more specifically disrupt viral reprogramming or packaging to a sufficient degree.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:06 PM on November 16

And yet they passed up this perfectly good opportunity to coin the word "Vampirus."  I just don't understand people.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:16 PM on November 16 [9 favorites]

They should nip this name in the bud and start calling them "angel viruses." If they don't, then every person who today refuses MRNA vaccines because they're terrified their DNA will turn into spike proteins and stab their hearts with myocarditis will refuse treatment with this stuff on the argument that it will turn them into undead fiends who will burn alive if the sun shines on them or they see a cross or smell garlic or touch silver.

In fact, what "they" should do is tell Trump, "Lookithere, we will make all your legal problems go away forever and let you keep Maralago and whatever other bullshit dictator crap you've amassed and give you more money than you will ever get being a Fox commentator and selling state secrets to Putin and all you have to do is consent to not being the president but instead being the official wordsmith of the CDC so you can explain to Americans how they can benefit from the many post-black-plague-era developments in health care that you trashed during your reign and thus got so many people killed to death. Take it or leave it, fucko!" Then he can call CDC recommendations Covfefe Treatment XXVIII or Trump's Magical Elixir or whatever he wants and the redhats will flock to the clinics.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:14 AM on November 17

Dean Swift (1733):
So, Nat'ralists observe, a Flea
Hath smaller Fleas that on him prey,
And these have smaller yet to bite 'em,
And so proceed ad infinitum
posted by BobTheScientist at 10:39 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]

Vampire viruses prey on other viruses to replicate themselves

The best part of virus is when he said "IT'S VIRIN' TIME" and he vired all over those guys.
posted by otherchaz at 11:41 AM on November 17

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