The research showed that bats - a natural host for more than 100 viruses - keep their immune systems permanently switched on, acting as a frontline defence against diseases.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), examined the genes and immune system of the Australian black flying fox -- the largest species of flying fox in Australia.

Interestingly, bats only have three interferons, which is only a fraction - about a quarter - of the number of interferons we find in humans, the researchers noted.

However, in other mammalian species having the immune response constantly switched on is dangerous - for example it's toxic to tissue and cells - whereas the bat immune system operates in harmony, the study said.

 

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