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Rodent to Recovery

Hamster and mouse serve as models of distinct aspects of human SARS-CoV-2 responses

29 December 2022

Rodent to Recovery

To unpick how a disease works and test new treatments, scientists study animals that can be infected with the same pathogen. For COVID-19, hamsters and mice have been the most useful, but we don't have a detailed understanding of the disease in these animals. Here, we see lung cells from a mouse with COVID-19 – the infected alveolar cells (green) contain a viral protein (red). In hamsters, the virus targets a different type of lung cell in the bronchus, but that's just one of the striking differences in how these two rodents react to COVID-19. Mice die within a week as the infection escapes their lungs to damage other organs. Hamsters restrict the virus to their lungs and successfully fight it off. The effects of COVID-19 vary widely among people too, and these two models capture different aspects of human disease. Understanding them better may bring the next generation of COVID-19 treatments.

Written by Henry Stennett

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