Creating a new mouse model to study COVID-19 lung disease

June 4, 2020

 Dr. Manoj Lalu  Dr. Manoj Lalu Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital are exploring more than 50 research projects to support the world-wide effort to find better ways to treat and prevent COVID-19.  

The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is providing seed funding for a number of these projects, including a study led by Drs. Manoj Lalu and Duncan Stewart that aims to create a new mouse model to study COVID-19 lung disease.  

The researchers are working to develop a mouse model of COVID-19 that mimics the severe lung disease seen in humans. The lack of good, accessible animal models of this disease is severely limiting research around the worldThe COVID-19 virus doesn’t infect regular lab mice very well, and the virus is dangerous to work with because it is so contagious for humans.  

Drs. Lalu are Stewart are working with Drs. Carolina Ilkow and John Bell, who are creating novel hybrid virus that features a key protein from the COVID-19 virus (the spike protein) embedded into a well-studied and safe virus called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). 

The team will test this hybrid virus in mice that have been genetically engineered to be more susceptible to COVID-19, to mimic the severe lung disease seen in humans. To make sure the model is accurate, they will use sophisticated techniques to compare their findings in mice with findings from patients, focusing on effects on the lungs, blood and blood vessels. They will then use this model to test new therapies, including mesenchymal stromal cells 

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa.   

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Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 

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