COVID-19 Variant Supplement – BLT-Lung mice for the rapid evaluation of COVID‑19 therapeutics

Lavender, Kerry J | $50,000

Saskatchewan University of Saskatchewan 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

Controlled animal studies of candidate anti-COVID-19 therapies are required to rapidly identify the most promising drugs and safely advance them to trials in human subjects. The animal models that best predict what therapies will perform similarly in humans are those that closely replicate the human condition. Primates closely resemble humans but rapid high-throughput evaluation of drugs in this animal model is not feasible for economic and ethical reasons. We are producing a unique mouse model that contains human lung implants that support SARS-CoV-2 infection and a human immune system capable of responding to the infection. This animal model thus closely replicates COVID‑19 disease seen in humans. These mice are in high demand to evaluate drugs that have already proven safe for the treatment of other diseases and drugs showing strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 effects in the laboratory. We will produce these mice and rapidly assess some of the most promising therapeutic candidates that have been identified as potential treatments of COVID-19. These studies will allow us to rapidly determine the impact of numerous promising compounds in a sophisticated animal model that closely resembles human COVID‑19 disease in order to better predict their success in humans and speed their course towards clinical use.

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