A virus is a miniature infectious agent that replicates within an organism’s living cells. Viruses affect all life forms, from plants and animals to microbes, including Archaea and bacteria. Some viruses cause specific diseases like AIDS or cancer, while others are responsible for other health disorders like colds and coughs. A virus can spread from one person to another by means of physical contact, as in the case of yawns or mouth ulcers. Some viruses are transmitted from one animal to another by means of a bite, saliva or semen. Other viruses spread from one human host to another by means of mosquitoes’ bites.
The viruses do not cause any harm to the human body, but they can cause serious problems in certain conditions. For instance, HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, usually affects the lymphocytes, the white blood cells, in the blood. These cells multiply very slowly and sometimes die. When these cells begin to multiply at abnormal rates, they attack healthy tissues and cells, causing damage. Overgrowth of these viruses can result in AIDS or develop into cancer.
Sometimes a virus causes a cellular machinery malfunction and destroys the host cell. For instance, SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, results from a virus which produces a compound called butylated hydroxyanisole, or HGV. This compound attaches to and destroys important structural proteins in the host cell, preventing its normal function.
Many viruses share some essential genes with many forms of cancer. These viruses are known as viral pathogens, and they often cause a cancer known as carcinoma in the cells of the body. While it is not possible to track exactly how these viruses affect the development of a particular cancer, research shows that the presence of one viral enzyme commonly found in tumors is common to all strains. It is called HPV for Hook Virus 1.
Some researchers suspect that some viruses cause cells to become unstable. They say that this unstable cell may then duplicate itself and spread. This is possible because these viruses are extremely fast-moving particles. The normal cellular processes of reproduction, building, regulation of gene activity and cell death are impeded. Because of this, researchers do not know if these viruses impair the health of the cells that they infect. They also suspect that a number of pathogenic viruses cause the cells to change their DNA so that they become less adaptable to the surroundings.
Researchers have found a virus that encodes a protein, referred to as the rna genome, that appears to be involved in the disease process. The rna genome encodes a protein called a capsulotomy factor. This factor is part of what determines whether a cell can grow and reproduce correctly. Since the rna genome is unique to every host cell, it is unlikely that other viruses will be able to use it to make a mutate into a cancer virus. It is not clear how this capsule is transmitted from one cell to another or how the capsule itself makes it to another cell.
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