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Evaluation of Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) as model of infection and disease by SARS-CoV-2

Abstract

SARS-CoV-2, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, is an emerging zoonosis identified in China in late 2019 responsible for causing atypical pneumonia. In just two months, the virus reached all continents, except Antarctica, being detected in individuals present in 187 countries/regions. The pandemic has had catastrophic effects on the population, health systems, social and economic well-being. Four measures are prioritized to counteract it: social distance, diagnosis, treatment and vaccine. The first two measures are already in effect in several countries around the world, while effective forms of treatment and vaccine candidates are still being sought. However, as to evaluate candidate molecules for treatment and prevention, it is necessary to develop an animal model of SARS-CoV-2. An ideal animal model must be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and develop a disease that mimics the clinical picture observed in humans with COVID-19 (i.e. the disease caused by the virus, called coronavirus disease 19). As coronavirus tend to be species-specific, several limitations exist when utilizing traditional mouse models. This host-specificity is given by the interaction of the virus with its cell receptor, and mice are known to be resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Also, the use of transgenic or immunossupressed mice to facilitate viral infection would not represent the normal physiology, hampering the development of a natural model of infection and disease, especially for evaluating vaccine candidates. As SARS-CoV-2 is a biosafety level 3 pathogen, the use of animal models is even more challenging. Thus, it is necessary to prospect animal species that are easy to contain and handle that have high similarity of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor sequence with the orthologous human receptor. Bioinformatic predictions and previous studies performed with SARS-CoV-1 suggest that non-human primates, ferrets, cats and hamsters are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among these options, the hamster model seems the most promising, given its small size and easy handling. Accordingly, in the last few weeks, other researchers published studies of the SARS-CoV-2 hamster model, reporting that the Golden Syrian Hamster infected with the virus can develop a disease with clinical, pathological and immunological manifestations similar to COVID-19 in humans, bringing additional evidence that this model is in fact efficient. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the Golden Syrian Hamster (Mesocricetus auratus) as a model of infection and disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 using clinical, hematological, histopathological and viral replication parameters. Once the animal model is established, it will bring great advancement for SARS-CoV-2 research in Brazil, as it can be used in pre-clinical assays of vaccine candidates, as well as in studies of pathogenesis and treatment. Simultaneously to this project, we are prospecting additional funding in other agencies to evaluate vaccine candidates in the hamster model that will be developed in this project. These vaccine candidates are being developed by collaborators included in this proposal. (AU)

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VEICULO: TITULO (DATA)

Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
DO COUTO, ANAHI CHECHIA; KMETIUK, LOUISE BACH; DELAI, RUANA RENOSTRO; DRULLA BRANDAO, ANA PEROLA; MONTEIRO, CAIRO OLIVEIRA; ANTONIASSI DA SILVA, LUCIANA HELENA; SOARES, CAMILA; BANARI, ALEXANDRE CAMPOS; BACH, RENATO VAN WILPE; PETTAN-BREWER, CHRISTINA; DOS SANTOS, ANDREA PIRES; SA GUIMARAES, ANA MARCIA; LEAL OLIVEIRA, DANIELLE BRUNA; DURIGON, EDISON LUIZ; BIONDO, ALEXANDER WELKER. igh SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in persons experiencing homelessness and shelter workers from a day-shelter in Sao Paulo, Brazi. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, v. 15, n. 10 OCT 2021. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DE MORAIS, HELIO AUTRAN; DOS SANTOS, ANDREA PIRES; DO NASCIMENTO, NAILA CANNES; KMETIUK, LOUISE BACH; BARBOSA, DAVID SOEIRO; BRANDAO, PAULO EDUARDO; GUIMARAES, ANA MARCIA SA; PETTAN-BREWER, CHRISTINA; BIONDO, ALEXANDER WELKER. Natural Infection by SARS-CoV-2 in Companion Animals: A Review of Case Reports and Current Evidence of Their Role in the Epidemiology of COVID-19. FRONTIERS IN VETERINARY SCIENCE, v. 7, OCT 27 2020. Web of Science Citations: 1.

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