The first virus in history

Yes, vaccines are over 200 years old. However, it was not known about viruses until long afterwards. What was the first virus in history (at least the first one identified)? Even Pasteur, who developed the rabies vaccine, never found out what caused it. I just thought it was a little smaller than a bacterium. His assistant Charles Chamberland provided the key to the discovery.

The Dutchman Martinus Beijerinck identified the first virus in history.
The Dutchman Martinus Beijerinck identified the first virus in history.
The tobacco trail

Chamberland invented a filter named after him that removes bacteria. It has smaller pores than bacteria, which allows them to separate. At that time there was such a thing as a “tobacco mosaic”. A pathogen that stains these types of leaves. It was believed to be a bacterium. Chamberland’s invention has shown that this was not the case.

The botanist and microbiologist Martinus Willem Beijerinck studied it thoroughly. The baptism of this pathogen as a “virus” is ascribed to him. It’s a word derived from a Latin term meaning “viscous liquid” or “poison”.

It was shown that the infection could be transmitted serially to other plants. The pathogen in question replicated itself. Hence, it was not a chemical toxin, as others speculated. In addition, it was found that the pathogen can diffuse through several millimeters of gel. A new branch of science emerged from this: virology.

Tobacco Mosaic Virus (also known as TMV) was the first virus in history (to be identified). And it continued to play a key role in the development of virology. After identifying this first virus in one plant, others were discovered in animals and humans.

Progress

The first human virus found was yellow fever in Cuba in 1901. The invention of the electron microscope in 1931 finally enabled scientists to see viruses. So they began to understand its complex structures.

The American biochemist and virologist Wendell Meredith Stanley was the first to crystallize a virus in 1935: TMV. They have been shown to remain active and infectious after crystallization. Stanley’s experiment also found that viruses were solid particles, not liquids. And that they’re mostly made up of protein.

Viruses have been countless since then, only a tiny fraction of which is harmful.
Viruses have been countless since then, only a tiny fraction of which is harmful.

Based on his findings, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1946.

In the 1950s it was discovered that viruses, in addition to proteins, consist of nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) that function as genetic material.

More than 200 viruses have been discovered affecting humans in the past 120 years. It is estimated that between three and four new species are discovered each year. Some, like smallpox, influenza, and HIV / AIDS, have killed millions of people.

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