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Experimental models and Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined how important intense preclinical research is to the development and validation of therapeutics.  In this context, a WHO-mandated group of experts, including Roger le Grand and Pauline Maisonnasse from IDMIT, have published an article in Nature that presents existing COVID-19 animal models and explores their pertinence for studying the pathology and identifying paths toward novel treatments for it.

Published on 2 October 2020

With COVID-19, humanity is facing an unprecedented crisis that can be resolved only by the development of a new vaccine and/or the discovery and therapeutic validation of new antivirals.  As part of the clinical trial Solidarity, the World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a worldwide campaign to test therapies and vaccines at an unprecedented scale. The trial is focused on comparing novel therapeutic options to standards of care to evaluate their relative efficacies against COVID-19. For the work, it was vital to rapidly identify the animal models pertinent to COVID-19 and thus able to provide knowledge on the action of the virus and the pathophysiology of the disease and furthermore contribute to testing and validating potential therapies.

With that goal, WHO decided to create an expert work group, including Roger Le Grand and Pauline Maisonnasse of IDMIT, to guide efforts on COVID-19 modeling and associated preclinical studies.

The work group was able to collect information from across the globe and launch research projects employing a range of experimental animal models of COVID-19.

For their article published in Nature, the experts reviewed a range of scientific articles on experimental models for COVID-19, including those produced by the work group members themselves since February 2020. The review was done to help the scientific community pursue preclinical studies with the aim of finding effective treatments as quickly as possible.

There is indeed a range of animal models researchers can use to explore important aspects of COVID-19, particularly the disease's pathological aspects and its transmission, SARS-CoV-2–host reactions, and the safety and efficacy of potential vaccines and treatments. Future studies should contribute to standardizing trials and protocols with the objective of improving comparisons of the efficacies of therapeutic candidates.

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