Alien Microorganism Research Shows Humans and Other Mammals Could Struggle to Fight Space Germs

Alien DNA Concept

Recent research indicates that the immune systems of mammals, including humans, could face challenges in detecting and effectively responding to germs originating from other planets.

The immune systems of mammals – including humans – might struggle to detect and respond to germs from other planets, new research suggests.

Microorganisms (such as bacteria and viruses) could exist beyond Earth, and there are plans to search for signs of them on Mars and some of Saturn and Jupiter’s moons.

Such organisms might be based on different amino acids (key building blocks of all life) than lifeforms on Earth.

Scientists from the universities of Aberdeen and Exeter tested how mammal immune cells responded to peptides (combinations of amino acids) containing two amino acids that are rare on Earth but are commonly found on meteorites.

The immune response to these “alien” peptides was “less efficient” than the reaction to those common on Earth.

The study – conducted in mice, whose immune cells function in a similar way to those of humans – suggests extra-terrestrial microorganisms could pose a threat to space missions, and on Earth if they were brought back.

“The world is now only too aware of the immune challenge posed by the emergence of brand new pathogens,” said Professor Neil Gow, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Impact) at the University of Exeter.

“As a thought experiment, we wondered what would happen if we were to be exposed to a microorganism that had been retrieved from another planet or moon where life had evolved.

“Some very unusual organic building blocks exist outside of the planet Earth, and these could be used to make up the cells of such alien microbes.

“Would our immune system be able to detect proteins made from these non-terrestrial building blocks if such organisms were discovered and were brought back to Earth and then accidentally escaped?

“Our paper addresses this hypothetical event.”

Microorganisms on Mars

The study was led by scientists at the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology, which moved from Aberdeen to Exeter last year.

Researchers examined the reaction of T cells, which are key to immune responses, to peptides containing amino acids commonly found on meteorites: isovaline and α-aminoisobutyric acid.

The response was less efficient, with activation levels of 15% and 61% – compared to 82% and 91% when exposed to peptides made entirely of amino acids that are common on Earth.

“Life on Earth relies on essential 22 amino acids,” said lead author Dr. Katja Schaefer, of the University of Exeter. “We hypothesized that lifeforms that evolved in an environment of different amino acids might contain them in their structure. We chemically synthesized ‘exo-peptides’ containing amino acids that are rare on Earth, and tested whether a mammal immune system could detect them.

“Our investigation showed that these exo-peptides were still processed, and T cells were still activated, but these responses were less efficient than for ‘ordinary’ Earth peptides.

“We therefore speculate that contact with extra-terrestrial microorganisms might pose an immunological risk for space missions aiming to retrieve organisms from exoplanets and moons.”

The discovery of liquid water at several locations in the solar system raises the possibility that microbial life may have evolved outside Earth, and could therefore be accidentally introduced into the Earth’s ecosystem.

Reference: “A weakened immune response to synthetic exo-peptides predicts a potential biosecurity risk in the retrieval of exo-microorganisms” by Katja Schaefer, Ivy M. Dambuza, Sergio Dall’Angelo, Raif Yuecel, Marcel Jaspars, Laurent Trembleau, Matteo Zanda, Gordon D. Brown, Mihai G. Netea and Neil A. R. Gow, 17 July 2020, Microorganisms.
DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms8071066

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome.

33 Comments on "Alien Microorganism Research Shows Humans and Other Mammals Could Struggle to Fight Space Germs"

  1. Somehow I’m not surprised.

  2. Like earth life in 3.7 billion years hasn’t come into contact with organisms not of this world before, micro and macro.. 2021 better not give us space aids.

  3. Homo Sapien must first confirm itself to be without greed of soul. The God of the universe will provide total protection to all death agents of biology.
    That’s going to take more time, based on our reaction to a simple Virus in 2020, which isn’t even ET in origin! Good luck humans !

  4. Humans should desist from experimenting with bio organisms. Any testing on his man’s or animals may cause mutations. If these mutated orniems accidentally leak and infect humans we may have to deal with a pandemic worse than anything the world has ever seen.

  5. Robert Z Prather | July 25, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Reply

    I agree with JC.

  6. China just launched #first mission to mars… I hope they wipe their feet.

  7. I can’t believe I spend time reading about worrying about a what if…by the way covid 19, is a man made tweaked virus, the statistics about life itself in this planet happening by accident, .00 don’t know how many zeros before to the point people (scientists ) are trying to re think the current theory of the primordial slime/accident… people is easy to believe the God of the bible created all. Any thing else considering the statistics requieres more faith.

    • It is not man-made. Everyone that has worked with the virus has confirmed this. god = fairy tales for dimwits.

  8. I’m not that smart being a 30+years of a tree service. But it would seem wise for these scientist to expirment with all these bacteria so they can be ahead of the game becouse if we don’t figure it out then another country that doesn’t like us will and they will weaponize it a unleash it on us and we won’t be able to defend are selves.but I could be wrong I normally am.

  9. Can silicon based peptides possible in existence?

    • Latest scientific standpoint is that silicate life might not be possible. At least definitely not in known conditions. So it is for now enough to look at carbon

  10. what brought back these alien particles to Earth?

    • They produced the amino acids artificially in some way. They are only extremely rare in our biosphere
      It says it in the article

  11. Is that why they go into space? To get viruses to infect the earth’s population?

  12. Kinda like who’s who’s hunn . With our live to be so much more than humans good bless.

  13. So what?
    Somebody will make bacteries or viruses with new atypical amino acids to infect our planet with their handmade new species before we contact with them in the space!
    Like corona virus invention!
    Like an insane, we are continuesly threat our species!
    Please stop it before it’s become too late!

  14. We should understand as much as possible.being responsible in the process.

  15. This work is important for future space exploration but it should be done off planet.

  16. I don’t by it. It would be so extraordinary for a pathogen that involved on another planet to pose any threat to us. A virus specialized in the way it infects. Think of the Corona Virus it has no way of infecting species on another planet with a completely unfamiliar body plan. It would be like trying to infect a piece of carbon fiber. It wouldn’t try. It would sit in wait for proper host.

  17. Earth isn’t more than thousands of year old. It’s not billions of years old. Thank you.

  18. NGUYEN HUNG SON | July 26, 2020 at 1:49 am | Reply

    There could be such organisms still here on earth like in Antarctica, that has had very little exploration done, which needs hundreds of billions in exploration and development to take place after the treaty expires a few decades from now.

  19. 4.543 billion years
    Image result for how old is the Earth

  20. Snake Pliscon | July 26, 2020 at 5:53 am | Reply

    That only makes sence to not have a strong immunity to space germs. Especially if we let our immune systems weaken even further by wearing masks. It was the worst decision ever to force masks on people. Small colds and minor congestion will become more like fevers thanks to a weak immune system.

  21. Christopher Aldridge | July 26, 2020 at 9:53 am | Reply

    Ann you are dense, the Earth is billions of years old. 4.3 billion years old I believe!

  22. I claim that every setlite is the form of mix metronides that have same space all over these setlits.
    Human shouldtrace the symptoms of life to stay there i.e water is essential

  23. Eric M. Jones | July 26, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Reply

    It will be great knowing that life exists elsewhere…just before it eats us!

  24. Cheyenne McMahon | July 27, 2020 at 9:35 am | Reply

    In order for an alien virus to effect Earth based life it would need to target a receptor present on Earth life. While not entirely impossible, being of alien origin would make this extremely unlikely. As far as space bacteria goes, bacteria generally cause harm by producing a toxin that effects the host. Using Clostridium botulinum as an example it produces Botulinum toxin which effects interacts with the SNAP-25 protein; this interaction prevents the release of acetylcholine, leading to paralysis. The likelihood of an extraterrestrial bacteria producing a toxin that would interact with Earth physiology is once again not impossible, but extremely unlikely.

  25. Missouri Astronomer | July 27, 2020 at 12:51 pm | Reply

    I hate to bring scientific fact to a meaningless experiment, but the Earth and mars have been “swapping spit” since born. Just like we find Martian meteorites, Mars has Earth based rocks that have hit it. Think of the impact that hit in the time of the dinosaurs, some of that Earth rock was flung out in space in all direction and could possibly have hitchhikers. There for, it is only logical to think life on Mars will share the same genetic make-up. Enough waisting tax payer money or grants on thought experiments that go against everything we have learned sofar. If this superbug exists, it landed here long ago and apparently wasn’t as bad as this thought experiment makes it out to be.

    In other words, this is basically like me saying what if alien dna was really acid, would it hurt humans? Pointless as this experiment, seeing as how even being in space theoretically exposes you to these bugs if they exist and astronauts land vehicles back on Earth all the time. No space aids yet, because there isn’t space aids.

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