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Science Briefing

Virus infects a larger virus

August 09, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Even viruses can suffer a viral infection, French scientists reported Thursday in the journal Nature in a discovery that may help explain how viruses swap genes and evolve so rapidly.

A new strain of giant virus was isolated from a cooling tower in Paris and found to be infected by a smaller type of virus, named Sputnik, after the first man-made satellite.

Sputnik is the first example of a virus infecting another virus to make it sick.

The finding may shed light on how viruses mutate so quickly, a feature that can make them difficult to tackle with drugs and vaccines.

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