Animal models for SARS-CoV-2: vaccines and immune enhancement

Falzarano, Darryl | $999,793

Saskatchewan University of Saskatchewan 2020 CIHR Operating Grant

In December 2019 a novel coronavirus (CoV) was identified as the cause of pneumonia in a cluster of patients in Wuhan, China. This virus is related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV and has been named SARS-CoV-2. In less than two months, there have been over 69,000 cases and over 1600 deaths. Quarantine measures have been imposed on entire cities in China in an attempt to control spread. Cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified in 28 other countries and there is concern that this could lead to global pandemic. Here we propose to identify what common lab and agricultural animals may be infected with SARS-CoV-2. This addresses two important questions. What animals can be infected and may pose a risk (or are at risk) and can these animals be used to models. Animal model allow us to understand how the virus causes disease, whether vaccines can be developed that protect from disease and how might the virus be transmitted. These are critical questions that need to be addressed when a new pathogen emerges. In addition, there is some concern that less than optimal vaccines or previous exposure to related pathogens could exaserbate disease – this is a somewhat unique phenomenom that was observed with SARS-CoV vaccines. We plan to investigate whether these animal models can be used to test for this, to ensure that vaccines are safe prior to testing in human clinical trials.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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