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Still Waters

Mutation gives bats edge over deadly viruses

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A single mutation in an immunity gene called Sting might be one reason why bats can resist the worst effects of harmful viruses such as Ebola.

Chinese scientists have shown that bat Sting triggers production of lower levels of interferon, the proteins that signal when the body is under attack.

Too much interferon is associated with the serious symptoms seen in many virus infections.

But bats, through their mutation, have evolved a means to dampen the response.

The researchers also think that the Sting gene has evolved to cope with the potentially harmful effects of flight.

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