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Covid-19 mouse model developed in Washington

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Jul 10, 2020 - 09:00 AM

LMBC NEWS – Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a mouse model of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) that replicates the illness in people.

In a news release on Friday, the University said that the developing drugs and vaccines against the disease has been delayed by the limited numbers of laboratory mice that are vulnerable for the SARS-CoV-2.

The mouse model developed by the researchers will not only be useful for drug and vaccine testing, but also to develop health conditions like obesity, diabetes or chronic lung disease.

This is to probe on the reason why some have developed critical Covid-19 cases while some recovers easily.

Principal investigator Michael S. Diamons, MD, PhD, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine and an expert on viral infections, said the limited numbers of laboratory mice has pushed for the investigational drugs and vaccines to be tested in humans.

“Many of them haven’t panned out,” he said.

Mice, on the other hand, are useful as they can allow a large number to be tested.

“It would be more cost-effective and efficient and safer for people if we could get more information about how these potential drugs and vaccines work and how effective they are before we move to more challenging non-human primate and ultimately human studies,” he said.

It also permits researchers to observe the course of the disease and the immune response in a way that is hard to do in people.

Also a professor of molecular microbiology, and of pathology and immunology, Diamond said that the mice can develop similar lung disease as seen in humans.

“They get quite sick for a while but eventually recover, like the vast majority of people who get COVID-19. You can use this technique with almost any strain of laboratory mouse to make them susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and then do whatever kind of study you want: test vaccines or drugs, study the immune response, and many other things related to how the virus causes disease,” Diamond said.

Researchers said the model also can be used to better understand the factors, like age, sex, and condition,that put some people at risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

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