NIH Grant to Create Humanized Mice Susceptible to COVID-19
By Andy Fell on August 3, 2020, in Human & Animal Health
The National Institutes of Health has awarded a grant of $1.2 million to the Mouse Biology Program at the University of California, Davis, to create mice that are susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, and to distribute them to researchers.
The goal is to create mice that can be used to reproduce human COVID-19 disease, said Kent Lloyd, director of the Mouse Biology Program and professor in the Department of Surgery at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Mice and rats are not naturally infected by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus enters human cells by attaching to a protein called ACE2. Lloyd’s team plans to create “humanized” laboratory mice by using CRISPR-Cas9 technology to precisely replace the genetic code for the mouse equivalent of ACE2 with the code for human ACE2. They will also do the same with other human proteins thought to play a role in COVID-19 disease, such as TMPRSS2, which is thought to work with ACE2 to get the virus into cells. These lab mice will enable new investigations of how the virus attacks the body, why some people are more susceptible than others, and how COVID-19 might be prevented or treated. As new genes involved in COVID-19 disease are discovered, they could also be engineered into mice, Lloyd said. Researchers might even be able to look at the effect of genetic variations in key genes on the course of disease. Lloyd expects the mice to become available in about six months.
The UC Davis Mouse Biology Program is a member of the NIH-funded Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Centers. The network collects and characterizes gene-modified and genetic knockout lab mice, and makes them available to researchers worldwide. The NIH recently renewed funding for the UC Davis center, now in its 21st year, for another five years.
UPDATE: March 7, 2021 MBP Operations Status
We are actively monitoring the situation with COVID-19. In accordance with state, local, and university guidelines, the University of California Davis, and the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program, are currently in Phase 3 of recovery. We have been given campus authorization to resume services, including beginning new projects, though with continued staffing restrictions, thus limiting our scheduling capacity; we will work closely with institutions and couriers, as there are still flight concerns, to ensure the safety and health of personnel, live animals, and research materials. We appreciate your understanding of delays experienced during this time.
UC Davis Mouse Biology Program Responds to Campus Fiscal Challenges
(June 24, 2020, DAVIS, CA) As the University of California Davis prepares for the fiscal impact of funding cuts in the state’s 2020-2021 budget due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program (MBP) is taking the unprecedented step by returning $275,000 from its reserve account to the University’s Office of the Provost. In the spirit of campus community, this generous donation comes at a time when the campus is facing unparalleled financial challenges as it deals with the effects of SARS-CoV-2. These funds will allow the Office of the Provost to support campus teaching and research programs with the greatest need.
MBP Now A Special Research Program Under Office Of Research
As the Mouse Biology Program (MBP) begins its third decade of service as a scientific resource for campus researchers, we are pleased to announce that effective March 1st we will join the UC Davis Office of Research. With operational and administrative oversight provided by the Office of Research, this move will place MBP in a better position to support the needs of campus investigators conducting research using mutant mice. This move will also better enable us to provide innovative products, unique services, and specialized infrastructure for research in areas of human and animal health and precision medicine. During this transition, we do not expect any slowdown in delivery or interruption of current or future orders and services to researchers.
Since 1997, the MBP has grown from one small laboratory to a large and vibrant organization playing an essential role in biomedical discovery by facilitating the availability and accessibility of next-generation mouse models and mouse mutagenesis and other strategies. This dedicated focus has enabled the MBP to become one of the largest academic based programs in the world. By relocating under the Office of Research, the MBP will be able to “Outgrow the Expected” and position UC Davis at the global epicenter of mouse based research.