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Familiarising the Problem

Inoculating mice with SARS-CoV-2 in aerosol rather than suspension form creates a model with more human-like symptoms

07 January 2022

Familiarising the Problem

Despite the odd headline about cats, dogs, and even hippos catching COVID-19, it has been difficult to develop a reliable animal model for scientific studies. Mice are not well suited to catching COVID, but researchers have genetically engineered some to be more susceptible. These test cases are typically infected with liquid suspensions of the virus through the nose, but tend to develop severe central nervous system infection (pictured, with the virus in red spread throughout the brain slice). This potentially fatal complication isn’t common in humans, so a new study has developed a way to inoculate mice with an aerosolised virus, which results in an infection with much more familiar responses of respiratory problems, anosmia [loss of sense of smell], and cellular changes comparable to those seen in human patients. Scientists hope that interrogating this more representative model will reveal COVID’s secrets and point to a potential path out of the pandemic.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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