Who is Chinese scientist Peng Zhou, the leader of bat virus infection at the Wuhan Institute of Virology?
The coronavirus pandemic, which started on December 12, 2019, has claimed at least 211,147 lives and over 3,058,186 cases. According to Chinese government officials, the deadly virus originated in Wuhan Seafood market. However, a group of Chinese scientists refuted Chinese government claim that the virus started at Wuhan Seafood market. In a study published in Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, the scientists challenged the hypothesis that Wuhan seafood market may not be source of the novel coronavirus. Instead, they said the virus likely originated from horseshoe bats used for research in two China labs.
The internet was set ablaze immediately after the paper was reported by mainstream media here in the United States. The paper also brought attention to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Interestingly, China has only one Level 4 microbiology lab that is equipped to handle deadly coronaviruses. The lab, which is called the National Biosafety Laboratory, is also part of the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
To add to the suspicion, Wuhan Institute of Virology posted a job on its website for researchers to study: “the unique bat innate immune mechanisms.” The full job posting, which can still be found on the Wuhan Institute of Virology website (screenshot below). As it turned out, the job posting is for the lab of Dr. Peng Zhou, Ph.D., a researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Leader of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunization Group.
So the question everyone is asking is: Who Dr. Peng Zhou? Dr. Zhou researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Leader of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunization Group. He received his PhD in Wuhan Virus Research Institute in 2010 and has worked on bat virus and immunology in Australia and Singapore. In 2009 , he took the lead in starting the research on the immune mechanism of bat long-term carrying and transmitting virus in the world.
Dr. Zhou is one of China’s top virology and immunology experts was and still works at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Since 2009, Dr. Zhou has been the leading Chinese scientist researching the immune mechanism of bats carrying and transmitting lethal viruses in the world. His primary field of study is researching how and why bats can be infected with some of the most nightmarish viruses in the world including Ebola, SARS and Coronavirus, and not get sick. At tome point, he was genetically engineering various immune pathways (such as the STING pathway in bats) to make the bats more or less susceptible to infection, in the process potentially creating a highly resistant mutant superbug.
To date, Dr. Zhou has published more than 30 SCI articles, including the first and corresponding author’s Nature , Cell Host Microbe and PNAS . At present, research on bat virus and immunology is continuing, and it has received support from the National “You Qing” Fund, the pilot project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the major project of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Below is a list of some of the recent papers published by Dr. Zhou.
- Dampened STING-Dependent Interferon Activation in Bats
- Fatal swine acute diarrhoea syndrome caused by an HKU2-related coronavirus of bat origin
- IFNAR2-dependent gene expression profile induced by IFN-α in Pteropus alecto bat cells and impact of IFNAR2 knockout on virus infection
- Immunogenicity of the spike glycoprotein of Bat SARS-like coronavirus
- Bat severe acute respiratory syndrome-like coronavirus ORF3b homologues display different interferon antagonist activities
That’s not all. In February, the Wuhan institute of virology published a is a press release from Dr. Zhou’s lab titled “How bats carry viruses without getting sick”:
Bats are known to harbor highly pathogenic viruses like Ebola, Marburg, Hendra, Nipah, and SARS-CoV, and yet they do not show clinical signs of disease. In a paper published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe on February 22, scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China find that in bats, an antiviral immune pathway called the STING-interferon pathway is dampened, and bats can maintain just enough defense against illness without triggering a heightened immune reaction.
“We believe there is a balance between bats and the pathogens they carry,” says senior author Peng Zhou. “This work demonstrated that in order to maintain a balance with viruses, bats may have evolved to dampen certain pathways.”
In humans and other mammals, an immune-based over-response to one of these and other pathogenic viruses can trigger severe illness. For example, in humans, an activated STING pathway is linked with severe autoimmune diseases.
“In human history, we have been chasing infectious diseases one after another,” says Zhou, “but bats appear to be a ‘super-mammal’ to these deadly viruses.” By identifying a weakened but not defunct STING pathway, researchers have some new insight into how bats fine-tune antiviral defenses to balance an effective, but not an overt, response against viruses.
The authors hypothesize that this defense strategy evolved as part of three interconnected features of bat biology: they are flying mammals, have a long lifespan, and host a large viral reservoir.
“Adaptation to flight likely caused positive selection of multiple bat innate immune and DNA damage repair genes,” Zhou says. These adaptations may have shaped certain antiviral pathways (STING, interferon, and others) to make them good viral reservoir hosts and achieve a tolerable balance.”
A month earlier in January, Dr. Peng Zhou posted another google-translated press release describing the achievements of Dr. Peng Zhou:
Wuhan has the first person in the global bat immunity research: “I rushed forward with a sword”
Changjiang Daily Financial Media May 4 hearing last month as they tied for first author made a “natural”, in recent years, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Wuhan virus after 80 young researchers Zhou Peng has been in the “natural”, “American Academy of Sciences ”And other international authoritative magazines published 28 papers, becoming academic stars. In an interview with reporters recently, he introduced that young scientists do not rely on genius to hold, but rely on “super confident”.
It is understood that Zhou Peng is the pioneer of global bat immune system research. “Bats carry viruses but do not get sick. They have not been researched by scientists before, and certainly have specificity different from other species, but this is like you know the beginning and Ending without knowing how the story happened. “ After more than 10 years of research, Zhou Peng discovered that an antiviral immune channel called “interferon gene-stimulating protein-interferon” in the bat’s body was inhibited, so that the bat could just resist the disease without triggering a strong immune response. The results were published in Cells, Hosts and Microorganisms, which aroused the attention of the academic community.
Zhou Peng, a student of undergraduate bioengineering, experienced SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in his junior year, which made him interested in the virus: “A small virus makes the world mess.” He was admitted to the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at the postgraduate level, and studied under Shi Zhengli, a bat expert. Focusing on the virus carried by the bat, then I was wondering if the bat’s immune system is special. ”
After graduating from the PhD, he entered the Australian Animal Health Laboratory and became the first person in the global bat immunity research. “I went through 4 years of trial and error, groped in the dark, and hit the South Wall numerous times. I still remember a ‘darkest moment’ ‘In the local cold winter, I was holding the frostbite knee, sitting at the beach, and asking myself why this was the case.’
He began to learn Australian jokes and inspired himself. In 2016, during postdoctoral studies at Duke University-National University of Singapore Medical School, he was concerned that a certain interferon in bats is always maintained at a high level. This paper became the cover article of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Bat Immunity “This door was opened, and more and more people in the world are paying attention to this field.” Our generation, when we were in college, watched “The Forrest Gump” and “Redemption of Shawshank” and taught us stupidity and perseverance. I I feel like I am carrying a sword and rushing forward. ”
After returning to China in 2016, Zhou Peng returned to his alma mater to become a little-known young researcher. “In the long run, bats carry the virus without getting sick. It is hoped that humans can learn how to fight the virus, but this is still far from industrialization. Far, the road ahead is long, and we must remain ‘super confident’ and continue to move forward. “(Reporter Li Jia correspondent Chen teased Li Li intern Luo Yameng)
You can read more about Dr. Peng Zhou here.