Lab-Made Virus Mimics COVID-19 Virus
Airborne and potentially deadly, the virus that causes COVID-19 can only be studied safely under high-level biosafety conditions. Scientists handling the infectious virus must wear full-body biohazard suits with pressurized respirators, and work inside laboratories with multiple containment levels and specialized ventilation systems. While necessary to protect laboratory workers, these safety precautions slow down efforts to find drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 since many scientists lack access to the required biosafety facilities.
To help remedy that, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a hybrid virus that will enable more scientists to enter the fight against the pandemic. The researchers genetically modified a mild virus by swapping one of its genes for one from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The resulting hybrid virus infects cells and is recognized by antibodies just like SARS-CoV-2, but can be handled under ordinary laboratory safety conditions.
Reference: Washington University of Medicine. ” Lab-Made virus mimics COVID-19 virus: Is safer to work with, can aid efforts to find drugs, vaccines” – Science Daily, 21st July 2020.
~ Shrishtee Kandoi
Member, Biotechnology Society of Nepal