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The Virology is the study of the virus . Virology characterizes and classifies the viruses described so far. She researches their properties and reproduction as well as the prevention and treatment of viral infections . Viruses can infect any living being (including bacteria and protozoa ). The virology of human and animal pathogenic viruses moves like microbiology at the interface between biology and medicine . Plant pathogenic viruses are of great importance in the agricultural industry and agriculture.

In medicine, virology is an integral part of the specialist discipline “ microbiology, virology and infection epidemiology ”.


The first primitive form of vaccination against viruses was practiced in India and the Chinese Song dynasty since the 11th century . There, the scabs of the wounds of smallpox sufferers who had survived the disease were placed in small scratches or other wounds of healthy people. The process is now known as variolation .

The process was later also used in Asia Minor. Mary Wortley Montagu , the wife of the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire , saw it there and brought it to England in 1721. The risk of dying from the variolation was 1 to 2 percent. Compared to the mortality rate from normal smallpox infection of 25% to over 40% in young children, this represented a significant advance.

It has been proven since around 1770 that six people in Germany and England had already successfully vaccinated with cowpox, when Edward Jenner used cowpox material to vaccinate eight-year-old James Phipps against smallpox in 1796 . This further reduced the mortality risk. Louis Pasteur named this procedure in 1881 Jenner's honor 'vaccination' (English vaccination from Latin vacca = cow).

In 1882 it was proven for the first time by the German Adolf Mayer in the Netherlands that a disease can be triggered by a substance that could not be removed even by filtration and therefore had to be significantly smaller than bacteria . No bacteria were visible under the light microscope, but the finest crystal needles.

Dmitri Iwanowski transmitted the mosaic disease in tobacco plants through an ultrafiltered extract and in 1892 was able to detect the tobacco mosaic virus described later . The first evidence of an animal virus was made in 1898 by Friedrich Loeffler and Paul Frosch , who discovered the foot-and-mouth disease virus .

It was only around 1940 that viruses could be made visible with the development of the electron microscope .

Virology in Germany

Independent institutes that deal with research on viruses that are pathogenic to humans were founded throughout Germany from the 1950s, since the observation of viruses on a larger scale was only possible from the 1940s. There are currently 28 research institutions with their own virological departments or institutions, mainly located at medical faculties or in independent research institutions ; in other universities, virology remains part of a general microbiological department without being independent. The oldest independent virological research facility is located in the Max von Pettenkofer Institute , which was opened in 1865, but has only had a chair in virology since 1996. Likewise, the founding of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg in 1900 goes back to the time before virus research, while the independent department for virology was added later. One of the first university institutes for virology was established at the Charité in 1956 , at that time in East Berlin . Originally it was housed in a basement in today's Dorotheenstrasse , with three employees and two laboratories.

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Virology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Sudhoff's archive . Volume 90, Issue 2, 2006, pp. 219-232.
  2. Matthias Stolz: Map of Germany: Virology Institute Zeit-Magazin No. 14 of March 25, 2020, online , accessed on May 6, 2020, 12:32 CEST