Saturday, November 21, 2020

Genetically Altered Mice Help Make Leeway in the Search for a Cure for COVID

 In March of 2020, the world was hit with a devastating virus that has affected the lives of roughly 55.6 million and taken the lives of around 1.34 million people worldwide. This virus that caused the pandemic was discovered to be SARS-CoV-2, or more commonly known as COVID-19. Many studies have been conducted to understand the virus and find new ways to prevent it and cure it. Most notably, in August of 2020, an article entitled “A Mouse-Adapted Model of SARS-CoV-2 to Test COVID-19 Countermeasures” from the journal Nature presented a study with a genetically altered version of the model organism Mus musculus, more commonly known as a mouse, where they had altered the mice to be able to contract the virus to learn more about it and what was the best way to go about counteracting it. In this study, regular laboratory mice were altered into ACE2 transgenic mice. These mice were altered due to their ACE2 cellular receptors being incompatible with the spike protein in the virus, which, when bound to one another, is the method in which the disease is transmitted. From here, different groups of mice were injected with SARS-CoV-2 to analyze. One of the first of these groups included Hfh4-ACE2 mice, which were used to see if the overexpression of ACE2 by the Hfh4 promoter would lead to an accurate model but were later dismissed as they did not lead to an accurate pathogenesis of the more severe cases of the virus. The model was fixed and shortly after the next test was underway to determine if SARS-CoV-2 could infect young adult wild-type mice by monitoring the affected mice and checking for weight-loss, decreased lung function, and replication of the virus in the mice. It was concluded that replication of the virus was observed in the upper and lower airways as well as slight replication in the parenchyma, which all, in turn, resulted in mild-to-moderate formation of the disease. The next test was to determine whether age was a factor in mortality while having this disease. It was found that age does play a factor, and when a young and old mouse were studied side by side, the old mouse had a faster replication rate and more medical complications. The last series of studies they had completed were studies involving possible vaccines and cures for SARS-CoV-2. These studies showed that therapeutic treatment with pegylated human interferon lamda-1 (PEG-IFN-λ1) shows potential in antiviral activity. From the data presented in the study, PEG-IFN-λ1 does show potential for great findings in treatment for the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, however, more research needs to be done. The results suggest that the treatment does increase lung function and decreases weight loss, as well as diminish the replication rate in the lungs. Another finding about this treatment through this article’s study was that this treatment, when administered therapeutically or prophylactic, had actually protected the mice from pulmonary dysfunction. According to all this evidence, it is evident that the race for finding the treatment or vaccine for this virus is having some good outcomes. Even if the PEG-IFN-λ1 is not a suitable treatment, from this study they were able to genetically alter mice to be able to contract SARS-CoV-2, which will be a huge step in trying to find more out about this virus. This study is so important for everyone in the world currently, and with studies such as these, we will be making leeway in stopping the spread and creating vaccines to prevent it. Since August, we have already have come a long way. For instance, we have recently discovered a way to detect covid from a chest scan. Since March, we have come a long way, and hopefully, we have come close to an end.

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