New Delhi: According to study of Chinese researchers, NeoCov is a type of coronavirus, that spreads among bats, but if it mutates further, might prove dangerous for humans.
The yet-to-be peer-reviewed study recently posted on the preprint repository BioRxiv, shows that NeoCov is closely related to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a viral disease first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Covid is a huge joint of viruses, that can cause diseases ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
NeoCov is found in a population of bats in South Africa and to date spreads exclusively among these animals. This information has been discovered by the researchers from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan University.
The researchers have noted that, NeoCov in its current form does not infect humans, but if it mutates, may effect humans as well. "In this study, we unexpectedly found that NeoCoV and its close relative, PDF-2180-CoV, can efficiently use some types of bat Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and, less favourably, human ACE2 for entry," the authors of the study noted.
Receptor protein on cells, ACE2, provides the entry point for the coronavirus to hook into and infect a wide range of cells.
"Our study demonstrates the first case of ACE2 usage in MERS-related viruses, shedding light on a potential bio-safety threat of the human emergence of an ACE2 using "MERS-CoV-2" with both high fatality and transmission rate," they said.
The researchers further noted that infection with NeoCov could not be cross-neutralised by antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2 or MERS-CoV.
"Considering the extensive mutations in the RBD regions of the SARS-CoV-2 variants, especially the heavily mutated Omicron variant, these viruses may hold a latent potential to infect humans through further adaptation," the authors of the study added.
A receptor-binding domain (RBD) is a key part of a virus that allows it to dock to body receptors to gain entry into cells and lead to infection.