You think COVID virus is bad? There's a sea microbe that's invisible to our immune system

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Mar 27, 2021, 10:14 PM IST

Image for representation Photograph:(AFP)

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The microbes were collected from a mile below the surface of the ocean

The fear of COVID in itself is enough for people to move well beyond the minimum required social distance. The once-in-a-generation pandemic has had the world in its clutches for more than a year now. There are now vaccines available ofcourse. But the scare remains.

But what if we told that there is a microbe that is invisible to our immune system? In theory, if these microbes entered our body, the immune system will not be able to mount a defence.

Scared yet?

Researchers associated with Harvard Medical School and other institutions have collected sea microbes that exhibit 'immunosilence'. The findings have challenged the notion in Immunovbiology that human immune system has evolved to detect every micro-organism with a view to protect us.

The microbes were collected from a mile below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. For this, the scientists chose a spot in central Pacific Ocean in Phoenix Islands in Kiribati, 1650 miles (2655 kilometers) from Hawaii. One of the authors of the study has been quoted in media as saying that it was "most deep, ancient, remote, and protected part" of the ocean.

The researchers collected the bacteria and added human and mouse immune cells to the culture. It was found that 80 per cent of the microbes (prominently Moritella) escaped detection.

This has led scientists involved in the study to exclaim that immune system may be "locally defined" by pathogens in the local environment.

In spite of the spooky findings of the bacteria being invisible to human immune system, those observed in the study don't pose risk of infecting people, said the scientists.

They have published their findings in the journal Science Immunology.