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Mice with severe COVID symptoms could speed vaccine effort

Scientists have developed a strain of #SARSCoV2 #coronavirus that causes severe #COVID19 symptoms in mice.

The model could accelerate development of drugs & vaccines.

Researchers have developed a strain of SARS-CoV-2 that triggers severe COVID-19 symptoms in mice — an advance that could accelerate the creation of drugs and vaccines and help to illuminate the biology of the disease.

Mice aren’t naturally susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. That’s because the virus does not recognize the mouse version of a receptor called ACE2, which the virus uses to enter cells. Scientists have devised several workarounds, including the development of SARS-CoV-2 variants that recognize mouse ACE2. Such efforts have proved helpful, but so far mouse models of coronavirus infection have not reproduced key symptoms of severe COVID-19, such as prolonged lung infection.

To develop a more faithful model, Vineet Menachery at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and his colleagues first infected mice with SARS-CoV-2 strains adapted to the rodents, then collected the virus from the animals’ lungs, infected more mice and repeated the process. Such ‘serial passaging’ eventually generated a SARS-CoV-2 strain that caused significant weight loss, lung damage and other signs of disease.

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