Creating COVID-19 mouse models as a valuable tool to research SARS-COV-2
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. As of June 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported infections in over 13 million people worldwide causing over 500,000 deaths. Developing and deploying preventative vaccines, reduced opportunistic infection strategies, and clinical therapeutics is benefiting from worldwide cooperation of the biomedical research and translational communities in both academia and industry.
The mouse is a valuable tool as an experimental model organism to improve our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection, colonization, pathogenesis, and host response mechanisms. The mouse can also be used to assess potential preventative, disease modifying, and therapeutic approaches. During the SARS outbreak in 2003 caused by the SARS-CoV-1 virus, the development of a strain of mice carrying a human ACE2 gene (the receptor for Coronavirus) which was susceptible to SARS-CoV-1 proved valuable in the study of SARS. This strain will also be vital for studies of SARS-CoV-2.
Research into coronaviruses has also identified several other genes that are either involved in infection, colonization, host response, and disease pathogenesis. Mouse strains carrying mutations in these genes will also be an important part of the toolkit for studying SARS-CoV-2 and potentially revealing new preventative, disease-modifying, or therapeutic approaches.
Using the mouse as a model system, employing its comparative genetics to humans and its facile genetic engineering, provides the research community with a model system that can provide valuable insights into SARS-CoV-2 and a platform for infection, colonization, and therapeutic studies.