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Scientists develop first deadly hamster mannequin


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Scientists Develop First Lethal Hamster Model for COVID-19

picture: Hamsters expressing the human model of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein, the mobile entry receptor of SARS-CoV-2, are extremely vulnerable to an infection and develop a deadly illness. Along with respiratory an infection, the virus additionally enters the central nervous system and causes harm. Picture reveals the microglial cells (inexperienced) engulfing contaminated neurons (crimson) in a course of known as neurophagia within the brains of hamsters. This transgenic hamster mannequin could also be helpful for finding out the neurological points of COVID-19, along with figuring out different elements that contribute to extreme illness.
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Credit score: Photograph credit score: Dr. Xiankun (Kevin) Zeng, USAMRIID

Military scientists, in collaboration with Utah State College, have developed a deadly hamster mannequin for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This mannequin system will assist in understanding the extreme illness course of COVID-19—together with the virus’s interplay with the central nervous system—and can help the development of vaccines and therapeutics focusing on the virus.

Joseph W. Golden, Ph.D. and colleagues on the U.S. Military Medical Analysis Institute of Infectious Illnesses collaborated with Zhongde Wang, Ph.D. and the USU staff to develop the hamster mannequin. Their findings seem in at present’s on-line version of mBio, a journal printed by the American Society for Microbiology.

SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus first recognized in Wuhan, China in late 2019, has prompted a world pandemic leading to vital morbidity and mortality in people all through the world. COVID-19 illness presentation in people ranges from asymptomatic virus provider to deadly systemic illness, and historic efforts are underway to develop medical countermeasures. Animal fashions that mimic the course of human illness are important for advancing these countermeasures.

Moreover, understanding how the virus can produce extreme, and probably lethal, illness in a small share of the inhabitants is an important side of those research. Whereas SARS-CoV-2 most usually causes a respiratory an infection, extra proof means that there might also be a neurological side of COVD-19 that’s poorly understood, in response to Golden, the paper’s first writer.

To discover this avenue, USU’s staff developed a transgenic hamster genetically engineered to specific the human angiotensin changing enzyme 2 (ACE2) gene—a key protein utilized by SARS-COV-2 to enter cells—beneath the management of a keratin 18 promoter. This promoter will increase the extent of ACE2 expression to supply a extra acute type of the illness, permitting scientists to review an infection of the central nervous system, together with the mind and spinal twine.

Hamsters, like people, are naturally vulnerable to an infection by SARS-CoV-2, partially as a result of they’ve comparable ACE2 proteins at necessary virus binding websites, the researchers stated. Ordinarily, contaminated hamsters develop respiratory illness; the virus is managed by the host and cleared; and the animals survive. On this means, the conventional hamster system is much like human illness, which is often reasonable in nature. Nevertheless, the K18-hACE2 transgenic animals developed acute illness, together with weight reduction, lung harm, and mind an infection, and finally succumbed to the illness.

“Working with Utah State College and leveraging their transgenic animal expertise, along with USAMRIID’s rising infectious illness analysis experience, has allowed us to extra comprehensively perceive the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2,” Golden stated.

Moreover, the authors discovered that uninfected management animals in proximity to contaminated animals additionally had the virus, indicating that this mannequin system is extremely delicate to SARS-CoV-2 an infection and could also be best for finding out viral unfold between hosts.

“This hypersensitive hamster mannequin could be significantly helpful for variants of concern that trigger delicate illness in wild sort hamsters,” stated Jay W. Hooper, Ph.D., the paper’s senior writer.


Concerning the U.S. Military Medical Analysis Institute of Infectious Illnesses:

For over 52 years, USAMRIID has supplied vanguard medical capabilities to discourage and defend towards present and rising organic risk brokers. The Institute is the one laboratory within the Division of Protection outfitted to soundly examine extremely hazardous viruses requiring most containment at Biosafety Stage 4. Analysis performed at USAMRIID results in vaccines, medicine, diagnostics, and coaching applications that shield each Warfighters and civilians. The Institute’s distinctive science and expertise base serves not solely to deal with present threats to our Armed Forces, however is an important factor within the medical response to any future organic threats that will confront our nation. USAMRIID is a subordinate laboratory of the U.S. Military Medical Analysis and Growth Command. For extra info, go to


The article, “Hamsters Expressing Human Angiotensin-Changing Enzyme 2 Develop Extreme Illness following Publicity to SARS-CoV-2,” is out there at this hyperlink:


Joseph W. Golden, Rong Li, Curtis R. Cline, Xiankun Zeng, Eric M. Mucker, Amadeo J. Fuentes-Lao, Kristin W. Ostrowski, Janice A. Williams, Nancy Twenhafel, Neil Davis, Joshua L. Moore, Stephen Stevens, Eugene Blue, Aura R. Garrison, Deanna D. Larson, Rebekah Stewart, Madelyn Kunzler, Yanan Liu, Zhongde Wang, and Jay W. Hooper


Funding was supplied by way of the Protection Well being Company; the transgenic hamster traces have been established by way of a Nationwide Institutes of Well being contract.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! aren’t liable for the accuracy of stories releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing establishments or for the usage of any info by way of the EurekAlert system.

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