Shortage of mouse models could delay COVID-19 treatment | Scientists studying COVID-19 protect research monkeys from infection | Scientists seek best animal model for COVID-19 studies
April 1, 2020
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Shortage of mouse models could delay COVID-19 treatment
(Pixabay)
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is supporting an initiative to identify monoclonal antibodies effective against COVID-19 and produce them within 90 days. Researchers have identified potentially effective antibodies and are testing them in labs, but the next step -- animal testing -- might be delayed due to a shortage of genetically modified mice, says DARPA's Amy Jenkins.
Full Story: National Public Radio (3/26) 
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Scientists are working at the Tulane National Primate Research Center to identify an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19 using as few monkeys as possible while protecting other monkeys from the virus, says associate director Rudolf "Skip" Bohm. Moreover, the pandemic is profoundly affecting staffing and the availability of personal protective equipment, Bohm and biosafety director Angela Birnbaum.
Full Story: ABC News (3/28) 
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Research Breakthroughs
Scientists at Texas Biomedical Research Institute are running tests on monkeys and other nonhuman primates to determine which species will yield the most relevant results in COVID-19 vaccine and treatment studies. The scientists want to convert their findings "to a sustainable scientific and clinical market to help companies with incentives so that we bring these drugs of vaccines to market and we're ready for the next outbreak," says Texas Biomed President and CEO Larry Schlesinger.
Full Story: KSAT-TV (San Antonio) (3/30) 
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GeoVax is preparing to test three candidate vaccines for the novel coronavirus in animals, CEO David Dodd says, after researchers were able to hit the ground running using insight from the 2002 SARS pandemic, caused by a closely related virus. With funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, GeoVax will use animal testing to zero in on the vaccine that is most likely to protect people from COVID-19, then scientists will test the most promising of them in clinical trials later this year.
Full Story: WXIA-TV (Atlanta) (3/31) 
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Treatment improves function in monkeys with Parkinson's
(Pixabay)
Infusing an anaerobic dopamine solution directly into the brain improved motor and cognitive function in monkeys with induced Parkinson's disease, researchers reported in Neurobiology of Disease. Researchers initially infused a high dose of A-dopamine and increased the dosage over 60 days to determine the therapeutic dose without causing adverse effects.
Full Story: Parkinson's News Today (3/30) 
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Injecting interleukin-4 reduced pain for up to eight days in mouse models of sciatic nerve pain by encouraging macrophages to produce opioid peptides at the site of inflammation, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight. The findings could help researchers develop treatments for a number of immune-mediated diseases, including arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer, says study leader Halina Machelska.
Full Story: Medical News Today (3/27) 
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Animal Health
Belgium's public health service reported that novel coronavirus genetic material was detected in the feces and vomit of a sick cat whose owner had COVID-19, but important questions remain unanswered as to whether the cat actually contracted the disease, writes veterinarian Sarah Caddy, a clinical research fellow in viral immunology at the University of Cambridge. "It is possible that the cat ate contaminated food and the virus simply passed through its gut. This explanation is less likely if large quantities of genetic material were detected in the cat, but this data has not been released," Dr. Caddy writes.
Full Story: The Conversation (3/30),  LiveScience (3/29) 
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Veterinarians don't have evidence that pets can spread SARS-CoV-2, but they want more information, and several labs have developed veterinary tests. Shelley Rankin, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says if pets were readily susceptible to the virus, a spike would have been noticed by now, and the USDA and many experts warn against widespread testing of pets for COVID-19.
Full Story: Science (tiered subscription model) (3/31) 
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Policy News
HHS purchases monkeys for coronavirus research
(CDC)
HHS issued a $1.8 million purchase order to Worldwide Primates for monkeys and other nonhuman primates for coronavirus research in the national interest. Testing of COVID-19 vaccines in humans is not expected to begin before fall.
Full Story: The Daily Beast (3/30) 
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Research News
COVID-19 vaccine won't be made in chicken eggs
(Tengku Bahar/AFP via Getty Images)
About 82% of the 174.5 million doses of influenza vaccine distributed across the US this season were produced in chicken eggs, according to the CDC, but the many chickens kept in secure facilities in the US won't be useful in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Coronaviruses and influenza viruses have different receptors and other characteristics, and the novel coronavirus can't replicate inside eggs the way influenza can, says pathology professor John Nicholls.
Full Story: CNN (3/29) 
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