Bats offer clues to immunity, longevity
Bats are amazing creatures, which have survived for 65 million years against all odds, offering vital clues to immunity and human longevity, according to an Australian study.
"Bats are a natural reservoir for several lethal viruses, such as Hendra, Ebola and SARS, but they often don't succumb to disease from these viruses. They're also the only mammal that can fly, and they live a long time compared to animals similar in size," says Chris Cowled, post-doctoral fellow at the Australian Animal Health Lab (AAHL) in Geelong.
Cowled is part of the Bat Pack, a team of AAHL researchers, which conduct a wide range of research into bats and bat borne viruses, and their potential effects on the human population, the journal Science reports.
The Bat Pack, along with the Beijing Genome Institute, led a team that sequenced the genomes of two bat species -- the Black Flying Fox, an Australian mega bat, and the David's Myotis, a Chinese micro bat, according to an AAHL statement.
Cowled says the research may eventually lead to strategies to treat, or even prevent disease in humans.
"A deeper understanding of these evolutionary adaptations in bats may lead to better treatments for human diseases, and may eventually enable us to predict or perhaps even prevent outbreaks of emerging bat viruses," he said.