Dr. Tao, Mi-Hua 陶秘華 博士



Rapid generation of mouse model for emerging infectious disease with the case of severe COVID-19

PLOS Pathogens, Aug 11, 2021



Since the pandemic of COVID-19 has intensely struck human society, small animal model for this infectious disease is in urgent need for basic and pharmaceutical research. Although several COVID-19 animal models have been identified, many of them show either minimal or inadequate pathophysiology after SARS-CoV-2 challenge. Here, we describe a new and versatile strategy to rapidly establish a mouse model for emerging infectious diseases in one month by multi-route, multi-serotype transduction with recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors expressing viral receptor. In this study, the proposed approach enables profound and enduring systemic expression of SARS-CoV-2-receptor hACE2 in wild-type mice and renders them vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Upon virus challenge, generated AAV/hACE2 mice showed pathophysiology closely mimicking the patients with severe COVID-19. The efficacy of a novel therapeutic antibody cocktail RBD-chAbs for COVID-19 was tested and confirmed by using this AAV/hACE2 mouse model, further demonstrating its successful application in drug development.

Author summary:

Upon the emergence of new infectious disease, animal model becomes a pivotal tool for study of disease mechanism and development of therapeutics. In this study, we propose a versatile approach that allows rapid generation of mouse model for novel infectious disease once the receptor of the pathogen is identified. We demonstrated this approach by generating a mouse model for COVID-19 in a month’s time. These mice were capable of recapitulating severe COVID-19 in patients, and successfully applied in the development of a therapeutic antibody cocktail for the disease. This not only suggests the usefulness of this mouse model for the research on COVID-19, but also exhibit the utility of the proposed approach for establishing animal model for infectious disease.

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