Their new research alliance is aimed at enabling scientists to better understand how the body responds to the virus, from day one of infection.
The work at LJI, led by Professor Sujan Shresta, will provide the first in-depth characterization of an ACE2ihumanized mouse model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, made available by Charles River through a licensing deal it secured with Gempharmatech, LTD.
This new mouse model has been engineered to express human ACE2, the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect human cells, and includes the same immune cells made by the human body, allowing for a close look at human immune responses, said Charles River.
“This brand new mouse model is a tremendous opportunity for my lab to study the human immune response on a timescale which is just not possible with clinical studies,” commented Shresta.
Her lab will be working closely with Kenneth Kim, director of the LJI Histopathology Core, on the project.
Currently, with human patients, researchers can only look at the immune response after there have been signs of infection. With this new mouse model, researchers will be able to understand better mechanisms of early infection in an immuno-humanized mouse and have a critical window into the human immune response that cannot be obtained in clinical studies, explained the CRO.
Immune response to infectious diseases
Shresta is an expert in using mouse models to study immune responses to infectious diseases, noted Charles River. Her laboratory has led research into virus-host interactions in diseases such as dengue, Zika and Japanese encephalitis. This work has shed light on the precise balance of immune cell types needed to fight off these potentially deadly viruses, noted the CRO.
The professor is also a member of the LJI Coronavirus Task Force and has worked to establish COVID-19 research partnerships in Nepal, Vietnam and the Philippines.