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Researchers at the University of California, Davis, figured out a clever way to deduce which animals are susceptible to the novel coronavirus — without putting any of our animal friends at risk by intentionally infecting them.

According to the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), any animal that has the same enzyme which SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect human beings is also at risk of infection from the novel coronavirus. The enzyme in question, ACE2, is found in a number of different cells in the human body, including the epithelial cells (a type of surface cell) on the lungs, nose and mouth. In order to infect humans, the novel coronavirus binds itself to 25 amino acids of the ACE2 enzyme.

The scientists at the University of California, Davis, believe that animals which have the same 25 amino acids in those ACE2 enzymes have the highest risk of contracting the novel coronavirus. In addition, they found that animals with the ACE2 enzyme who do not have the same 25 amino acids are less likely to contract the virus; there is a direct correlation between the number of shared amino acids and a given animal’s likelihood of getting infected.

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