25 November 2022

Covid mice

Scientists have bred sick COVID-19 mice – they will be tested for treatment methods

Tatiana Deis, Сибкрай.ги

25 transgenic mice were delivered to the Vector Virological Center in the Novosibirsk region. These rodents had their genome specially altered to infect them with the coronavirus. COVID-19 mice do not get sick. Scientists need transgenic animals for vaccine development and drug testing.

Scientists are developing new methods to combat the coronavirus. Vaccines and medicines need to be tested on someone. But ordinary experimental mice were not suitable for this: by nature they were not infected with covid, there was not enough protein in the cells for which the virus could "catch on". Then scientists decided to correct the mouse genome.

"Recently, young scientists have created a line of mice that are affected by the coronavirus. Vector has reported that the line is good and can be used for vaccines and technology," Alexey Kochetov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAS, said during the international conference "Gene Pool and Plant Breeding".

The painstaking work continued for several years. On the first attempt, the altered genome produced the opposite result. When trying to infect mice with covid, they, instead of getting sick, on the contrary, began to gain weight and behaved actively. The repeated experiment worked, the virus-susceptible mice went to the "Vector".

"In the second attempt, we replaced the control element in our genetic design, introduced a new design into the genome and this time everything worked as planned! We transferred 25 transgenic mice and 21 control (normal) mice to the Vector. All infected transgenic mice developed the disease: they began to lose weight and died by the sixth day after infection. The control animals did not develop any signs of the disease, since ordinary mice are not susceptible to this virus," he said Nariman Battulin, Head of the Laboratory of Developmental Genetics at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAS.

The goal of the scientists was to create an animal model of COVID-19, and it is necessary that the disease proceeds heavily in mice. No matter how cruel it may sound, this is how you can achieve the most vivid manifestation of the protective properties of vaccines and antiviral drugs. To do this, a human gene encoding a protein is inserted into the animal genome, through which the coronavirus penetrates into cells. In humans, this protein is not present on all cells, so some tissues suffer more from the coronavirus, for example, the lungs, and it almost does not penetrate into other cells, for example, the skin. To strengthen the course of the disease, the scientists wanted to make the human protein appear on all mouse cells. And on the second attempt it succeeded.

Nariman Battulin added that the transferred animals are intended for experiments. But breeding animals for future research will be done in the vivarium of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAS.

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