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Nearly every medicine, medical device, surgical procedure and therapy we have today has depended on animal testing and research. Animal research is one of the first steps in medical discovery.

“There are diseases in which you vaccinate someone, they get infected with what you are trying to protect them with, and you actually enhance the infection. You can get a good feel for that in animal models,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said during a White House briefing on March 26.

Contrary to the claims of animal rights groups, animal models have been and will continue to be crucial to medical development and public health. 

The FBR team rounded up articles in the news in recent weeks on potential treatments and potential vaccines for the new coronavirus, as well as other COVID-19 developments, and the animal models used to develop them. In addition, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News put together a list (found here) of potential COVID-19 treatments in development.

Animal Research on the Front Lines

May 28: ‘WSU is testing animals for COVID-19 to learn more about how the virus moves between species,’ The Pacific Northwest Inlander

May 27: ‘Chinese researchers find human neutralizing antibody targeting COVID-19 receptor binding site,’ Global Times

Researchers working with rhesus macaques published results in Nature on May 26.

May 27: ‘A small number of monkeys could help millions of people: Coronavirus vaccine testing,’ Speaking of Research

May 27: ‘US company trials coronavirus vaccine candidate in Australia,’ The Associated Press

Novavax started clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, in Australia. Animal tests showed positive results in low doses.

May 26: ‘Nature publishes preclinical characterization and primate efficacy data on Junshi Biosciences’ COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies,’ Globe Newswire

May 26: ‘A human neutralizing antibody targets the receptor binding site of SARS-CoV-2,’ Nature

Researchers working with rhesus macaques found the first human neutralizing monoclonal antibody for COVID-19.

May 26: ‘Taxpayers paid to develop remdesivir but will have no say when Gilead sets the price,’ The Washington Post

“In remdesivir’s case, government researchers narrowed the search from 1,000 compounds to the chemical that would become remdesivir, confirmed its potency in laboratory tests, tested it in monkeys, and finally sponsored a pivotal clinical trial in humans,” the report said.

May 25: ‘Thailand enters global race for vaccine with trials on monkeys,’ Agence France-Presse

May 25: ‘”A key milestone”: COVID-19 vaccine “highly effective” in ferrets, says VIDO-Intervac,’ Saskatoon StarPhoenix

May 25: ‘Canadian coronavirus vaccine candidate delivers promising results in animal tests,’ The Globe and Mail

May 24: ‘How animal research at UGA is adapting to COVID-19,’ The Red & Black

May 22: ‘VIDO-Intervac wraps up animal phase of COVID-19 vaccine testing,’ CKOM News

May 22: ‘Primate studies offer hope for future COVID-19 vaccine development,’ Infectious Disease Hub

May 22: ‘The coronavirus vaccine is on track to be the fastest ever developed,’ The New Yorker

In mice, the vaccine provided full protection against viral replication in the lungs, which researchers tested by giving mice the vaccine and then deliberately infecting them with the virus,” The New Yorker reported about Moderna’s experimental vaccine. “(Scientists place a small drop of virus-laced fluid over the mouse’s nostrils. Similar trials on rhesus macaques are about to start.)”

May 22: ‘Coronavirus vaccine shows promising early results in China,’ The New York Times

The report said:

“‘This is promising data, but it’s early data,’ said Dr. Dan Barouch, director of vaccine research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, who was not involved in the work. ‘Over all, I would say this is good news.’

… And on Wednesday, Dr. Barouch and his colleagues published a study showing their prototype vaccine protected monkeys from coronavirus infection.”

BREAKING NEWS: May 21: ‘Scientists made a mouse embryo that’s 4% human — the highest level of human cells in an animal yet,’ CNN

“Such chimeric mice would be very useful for studying COVID-19, which gravely impacts human, but barely affects mice,” State University of New York at Buffalo physiology and biophysics professor Jian Feng said.

May 21: ‘Monkeys in coronavirus tests “develop immunity” in two different studies,’ Daily Star

“Despite the medical progress animal research has enabled, some activists are trying to restrict its use by arguing that it’s inhumane. But animal research is tightly regulated by the federal government,” FBR President Matthew R. Bailey said. “Just like in hospitals, researchers are required to use appropriate anesthetic and analgesic drugs to ensure animals don’t experience pain.”

May 20: ‘NIH supported MMRRC repository providing COVID-19 related mouse models for research,’ Mutant Mouse Resource & Research Centers

May 20: ‘New studies show that developing a coronavirus vaccine should be possible,’ NPR

“Three studies published Wednesday suggest it should be possible to come up with a coronavirus vaccine — tests performed on animals have shown the right results to prove a vaccine could be possible,” NPR reported.

May 20: ‘Inovio says COVID-19 vaccine produces antibodies in mice, guinea pigs,’ Reuters

May 20: ‘DNA vaccine protection against SARS-CoV-2 in rhesus macaques,’ Science

May 20: ‘SARS-CoV-2 infection protects against rechallenge in rhesus macaques,’ Science

BREAKING NEWS: May 20: ‘Two studies suggest COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity,’ The Boston Globe

Two studies published in Science found antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 provide some level of immunity in rhesus macaque monkeys, though it is unknown how long protection lasts.

May 20: ‘Wistar Institute coronavirus vaccine shows signs of eliciting immune response in animals,’ The Daily Pennsylvanian

May 20: ‘Vaccines can protect against COVID-19 in nonhuman primates, study says,’ The Harvard Gazette

May 20: ‘Two new studies suggest COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity,’ The Hill

“In one of the studies, nine rhesus macaque monkeys, which share 93 percent of the same DNA as humans, were injected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus quickly spread and all of the animals developed viral pneumonia, though all of them recovered within 28 days,” The Hill reported.

May 20: ‘Progress reported for coronavirus vaccines from Jefferson and Wistar, skepticism about Moderna,’ The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Our partnership with Bharat Biotech will accelerate our vaccine candidate through the next phases of development,” Jefferson Vaccine Institute Director Matthias Schnell said. “We will be able to complete animal testing and move to a phase 1 clinical trial [in humans] rapidly.”

May 20: ‘A new entry in the race for a coronavirus vaccine: Hope,’ The New York Times

“Animal studies have raised expectations, too. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on Wednesday published research showing that a prototype vaccine effectively protected monkeys from infection with the virus,” the article said. “The findings will pave the way to development of a human vaccine, said the investigators.”

May 20: ‘How would a drug to potentially treat the coronavirus be developed?’ Utah Public Radio

“Once they’ve determined an animal’s coronavirus symptoms, [Utah State University Professor Brett] Hurst said they can treat the animals with the drugs that proved to be successful in the human-cell model,” the report said.

May 20: ‘COVID-19 vaccine possible by early 2021, local expert says,’ WWL

“Another thing that was similar to humans is that most of the animals [primates] didn’t get sick, visibly ill, but there were a couple that did,” said Dr. Skip Bohm, chief veterinary medical officer of the Tulane National Primate Research Center.

May 19: ‘Wearing a mask can significantly reduce coronavirus transmission, study on hamsters claims,’ CNBC

May 19: ‘Coronavirus vaccine trials have delivered their first results — but their promise is still unclear,’ Nature

“One way to find out whether vaccines can prevent transmission would be to study them in animals that are naturally susceptible to the virus and seem capable of spreading it, such as ferrets and hamsters, says [University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research aerobiologist Douglas] Reed,” the article said.

May 18: ‘As researchers at Northwestern and elsewhere scramble to find a treatment for COVID-19, they hope this time the money won’t run out before the next threat hits,’ Chicago Tribune

“When researchers identify the genetic sequence of a protein or enzyme that is essential to the virus’s replication, they then look for a compound that blocks it, called the inhibitor. The compounds are developed into a drug that not only lasts long enough in the body to kill the virus but is also nontoxic,” the report said. “Only then can it move to animal trials and, eventually, human trials.”

May 18: ‘CureVac ramps up COVID-19 mRNA vaccine effort as Moderna analysts raise questions about animal data,’ FierceBiotech 

“CureVac said late last week that its lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate generated ‘high levels’ of virus-neutralizing titers in animal models and that it ‘has the potential to induce a strong immunologic response to neutralize SARS-CoV-2,'” the report said.

May 18: ‘Lawrence Livermore scientists part of three-institution team working to develop vaccine for tularemia,’ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers will collaborate with scientists from the University of New Mexico and the Tulane National Primate Research Center.

“Lab researchers see the [nanolipoprotein particles] NLPs platform as a flexible tool that can broadly be applied to developing vaccines for different pathogens,” the press release said.

May 18: ‘Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine shows promise in early results,’ Live Science 

The article said:

“‘These interim phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,’ Dr. Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna, said in the statement. When combined with data from the mouse study, these results ‘substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.’”

May 18: ‘Early data show Moderna Covid-19 vaccine generates immune response,’ STAT News

“The neutralizing antibody and safety results from the Phase 1 clinical study are promising for the Moderna mRNA vaccine candidate and supportive to proceed forward with the planned Phase 2 studies,” RenovaCare Chief Scientific Officer Robin Robinson told STAT.

The health-oriented news website reported: “Vaccination with the candidate vaccine, provisionally labeled mRNA-1273, also prevented viral replication in the lungs of mice in preclinical testing, the [Moderna’s] statement said.”

May 18: “Why Rhesus monkeys are used for most vaccine trials,” The Times of India

May 18: ‘Tulane scientists discuss ongoing coronavirus research including plans to vaccinate animals,’ WVUE

May 18: ‘Chinese researchers identify highly potent neutralizing antibodies against COVID-19,’ Xinhua News Agency

“Chinese researchers have successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, from convalescent plasma by high-throughput single-cell sequencing, according to a new study published in Cell on Sunday. … New results from animal studies showed that neutralizing antibodies provide a potential cure for COVID-19 as well as a means for short-term prevention, which marks a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic,” the report said.

May 15: ‘Coronavirus vaccine: Macaque monkey trial offers hope,’ BBC News

May 15: ‘Coronavirus research: The known “risk” scientists are taking in race for COVID-19 vaccine,’ Nine News Sydney

“It costs quite a bit of money to run phase one and two studies, and you might be halfway through that when you show your animal has no protection,” Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity Sharon Lewin said.

May 15: ‘Testing of COVID-19 skin patch vaccine begun by Verndari Inc. in collaboration with UC Davis,’ The California Aggie

“Before you move [the vaccine] into the human, […] you need to work in multiple animal models, which takes time, to show that not only were you able to show that it’s safe, but that in the event that that individual got infected, it stopped the infection from causing a clinical disease or at least reduced the clinical symptoms,” said Kristin Grimsrud, the associate director of vivaria and veterinary care at UC Davis’ Mouse Biology Program.

May 15: ‘UK researchers hope dogs can be trained to detect coronavirus,’ The Guardian 

Research has shown that diseases such as malaria have a distinctive odor and also that respiratory disease can change the body’s odor. Scientists are working to determine if medical detection dogs can detect COVID-19 in humans.

May 14: ‘Building a mouse squad against Covid-19,’ Knowable Magazine

May 14: ‘From hamsters to baboons: The animals helping scientists understand the coronavirus,’ Scientific American

May 14: ‘SARS lessons for COVID-19 vaccine design,’ ScienceDaily

“The ‘spike’ proteins of both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are related and they attach to the same molecule called ACE 2 on human cells to infect people. We now also know through animal experiments with SARS-CoV-2 that neutralising antibodies protect from reinfection,” University of Melbourne professor Kanta Subbarao wrote in an article.

May 14: ‘Iowa mice key in race for COVID-19 treatments,’ The Des Moines Register

May 14: ‘WSU researchers look to head off COVID-19’s deadly pneumonia,’ WSU Insider

This Washington State University press release announced the development of an antibody that successfully neutralizes protein A9, a protein that triggers inflammation, including severe pneumonia in COVID-19 patients. University researchers discovered the specific role of this A9 protein by doing research with mice and studying the A9 protein in mice. Then they were able to develop an antibody.

May 13: ‘GC Wellbeing finds placenta injection relieves COVIID-19 symptoms through animal testing,’ Aju Business Daily

A Korean placenta injection showed positive results in a ferret model.

May 13: ‘UW studying coronavirus’s impact on pets,’ Patch

May 13: ‘Cats with no symptoms spread virus to other cats in lab test,’ The Associated Press

May 12: ‘Respiratory disease in rhesus macaques inoculated with SARS-CoV-2,’ Nature

May 12: ‘Research underway to understand how COVID-19 affects different animal species,’ Scripps Media

May 12: ‘Unveiling “Warp Speed,” the White House’s America-first push for a coronavirus vaccine,’ Science

The White House will soon announce its “Operation Warp Speed” to speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. “The project, vaguely described to date but likely to be formally announced by the White House in the coming days, will pick a diverse set of vaccine candidates and pour essentially limitless resources into unprecedented comparative studies in animals, fast-tracked human trials, and manufacturing,” the article said.

May 12: ‘Pigs exempted: Study uncovers 48 animal species most likely to get coronavirus,’ Science Times

May 11: ‘Researchers develop promising MERS vaccine, with potential for COVID-19,’ Drug Target Review

“A Korean research team has developed a new vaccine platform using RNA-based adjuvants for the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which showed promise in nonhuman primates,” the publication reported.

May 11: ‘New HIV vaccine combination strategy provides better and more durable protection,’ Emory University

“Researchers from the Emory Consortium for Innovative AIDS Research in Nonhuman Primates and their colleagues across North America have shown a new HIV vaccine is better at preventing infection and lasts longer, continuing to protect one year after vaccination. The findings, which are published online today in Nature Medicine, provide important insights for preventing HIV, and the timeliness of the results could also help shape the scientific community’s approach to developing vaccines for COVID-19,” a press release said.

May 11: ‘The search for a Covid-19 research animal model,’ WIRED

Also, check out FBR’s white paper “The Critical Role of Nonhuman Primates in Medical Research” (linked here).

May 9: ‘Animals and COVID-19,’ The Scranton Times-Tribune

“Recent research shows that ferrets, cats and golden Syrian hamsters can be experimentally infected with the virus and can spread the infection to other animals of the same species in laboratory settings,” the Q&A article said.

May 8: ‘Pangolins hold clues to how COVID-19 began — and might end,’ HealthDay News

May 8: ‘From proposals to funded research in 48 hours: Tulane scientists receive Fast Grants,’ Tulane

“Mairi Noverr of Tulane University School of Medicine along with Monica Vaccari and Tracy Fischer of Tulane National Primate Research Center all received Fast Grants for COVID-19 research,” according to the university.

May 7: ‘Vanderbilt University Medical Center and IDBiologics ally in race to develop breakthrough medicines for COVID-19,’ Business Wire

May 7: ‘The latest on the COVID-19 vaccine,’ Extra TV

On May 7, Extra TV’s Billy Bush sat down with Dr. Armand Dorian to discuss the latest headlines surrounding COVID-19. They discussed the University of Oxford’s successful COVID-19 vaccine trials with rhesus macaques. This allowed Oxford University to move into human trials in late April. Watch the Extra TV segment to learn more! Video credit: Extra TV

May 6: ‘Pitt collaborating with other researchers on nasal spray that could prevent coronavirus infection,’ CBS Pittsburgh

“In animal studies, Q-griffithsin worked against Ebola, hepatitis, MERS, SARS and other viruses,” the report said.

May 6: ‘Rapid development of an inactivated vaccine candidate for SARS-CoV-2,’ Science 

May 6: ‘Hoping llamas will become coronavirus heroes,’ The New York Times

May 5: ‘Antibodies from llamas are a promising avenue in fight against COVID-19,’ Laboratory Equipment

May 5: ‘Belgian, U.S. scientists look to llama in search for COVID-19 treatment,’ Reuters

May 4: ‘Structure of COVID-19 virus hints at key to high infection rate,’ Cornell Chronicle

Studying feline viruses might offer clues to COVID-19.

May 4: ‘Fauci: No scientific evidence the coronavirus was made in a Chinese lab,’ National Geographic

“Fauci has said that he thinks a final vaccine could be available for general use as early as January, which would break records for the speed at which previous vaccines were developed,” National Geographic reported. “One reason for his confidence is the ‘impressive’ results being seen now in animals tested with a vaccine candidate made by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Therapeutics, which brought it into human trials in a record 42 days.”

May 4: ‘San Antonio researchers land $200,000 to develop possible COVID-19 vaccine,’ San Antonio Current

May 4: ‘A coronavirus vaccine project takes a page from gene therapy,’ The New York Times

Researchers at two Harvard-affiliated hospitals have studied their vaccine candidates in mice. The team expects to test for safety in monkeys in about a month.

May 1: ‘Impression Healthcare to commence animal testing of CBD drug for COVID-19 related respiratory conditions,’ Small Caps

April 30: ‘Animal health laboratories aid testing for COVID-19 in people,’ Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

April 30: ‘Why you should avoid some cough syrups if you think you’ve got the coronavirus,’ Los Angeles Times

“In tests conducted at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, researchers found that when dextromethorphan was introduced into the cells of African green monkeys growing in petri dishes, the subsequent addition of SARS-CoV-2 resulted in more prolific viral growth,” the report said.

April 30: ‘Napa company begins testing a potential COVID-19 vaccine,’ Napa Valley Register

“Verndari, Inc. is also in discussions with the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis to conduct further testing in nonhuman primates,” the article said.

April 30: ‘Verndari begins preclinical testing of COVID-19 vaccine candidate,’ Pharma News Daily

April 30: ‘We found and tested 47 old drugs that might treat the coronavirus: Results show promising leads and a whole new way to fight COVID-19,’ The Conversation

April 30: ‘Old drugs may find a new purpose: fighting the coronavirus,’ The New York Times 

April 30: ‘San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics awards $200,000 toward COVID-19 vaccine project,’ The University of Texas at San Antonio

“Vaccine development takes a long time. There has to be rigorous testing in different animal models, and then small-scale studies in humans,” said microbiologist Karl Klose, director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and professor of microbiology at UTSA. “The process is designed to ensure the safety of the people who take the vaccine. We will learn a lot from this process, including how to use a live vaccine platform to protect against an emerging disease. Hopefully in the future, we can respond quicker with a vaccine against the next pandemic.”

April 29: ‘UC Davis researchers to begin testing coronavirus vaccine patch this week,’ CBS Sacramento

“Verndari, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Napa, will begin preclinical testing of a possible coronavirus vaccine on mice this week in partnership with UC Davis’ mouse biology program,” the report said.

April 29: ‘Research delayed, rodent populations reduced during pandemic,’ Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

April 29: ‘Maine research facility working with mice to develop more COVID-19 testing,’ WGME

“This is gonna be a critical piece. It’s like you can’t fight a war without tanks,” said Dr. Ed Liu, president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. “You can’t fight a war, this war, the pandemic, without a model system to test whether the drugs or the vaccines work.”

April 28: ‘Flow Pharma reports Ebola vaccine success and how that directed FlowVax COVID-19 vaccine design,’ Accesswire

“Our article published today shows that a single injection of our Ebola vaccine provided 100% protection for mice exposed to Ebola virus” said Flow Pharma Chief Science Officer Charles Herst, the first author on the article. “By relying on killer T-cells rather than antibodies, FlowVax Ebola is able to attack the nucleocapsid protein located at the center of the virus where antibodies cannot reach. We are taking the same approach with FlowVax COVID-19.”

April 27: ‘In race for a coronavirus vaccine, an Oxford group leaps ahead,’ The New York Times

“Scientists at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana last month inoculated six rhesus macaque monkeys with single doses of the Oxford vaccine. The animals were then exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that is causing the pandemic — exposure that had consistently sickened other monkeys in the lab,” the report said. “But more than 28 days later all six were healthy, said Vincent Munster, the researcher who conducted the test.

‘The rhesus macaque is pretty much the closest thing we have to humans,’ Dr. Munster said, noting that scientists were still analyzing the result.”

April 26: ‘Recombinant protein produces neutralizing COVID-19 antibodies in primate model,’ Medical Research News

April 26: ‘KBP begins testing COVID-19 vaccine candidate on animals,’ Owensboro Times

April 25: ‘Coronavirus: In a race against time, vaccine testing expands,’ Mercury News

April 24: ‘Vaping, opioid addiction accelerate coronavirus risks, says NIDA director,’ Kaiser Health News

“We know from animal experiments that vaping itself — not even giving any drugs with it — can produce inflammatory changes in the lung,” National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow told Kaiser Health News. 

April 24: ‘New COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in monkeys. Next step: humans,’ Live Science

April 24: ‘Celebrating #WorldImmunizationWeek 2020: #VaccinesWorkforAll,’ Speaking of Research

April 23: ‘A look back at medical advances in 2019 and the role played by animal research,’ European Animal Research Association

BREAKING NEWS: April 23: ‘COVID-19 vaccine protects monkeys from new coronavirus, Chinese biotech reports,’ Science

Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine-in-development showed promise in rhesus macaques, scientists reported.

April 23: ‘Three ways to make coronavirus drugs in a hurry,’ Scientific American

April 22: ‘Statement in support of the global research community’s efforts to end the COVID-19 crisis,’ Speaking of Research

This joint statement is the result of a collaboration between several research advocacy organizations along with individual biomedical researchers, animal care experts and university communicators.

April 21: ‘COVID-19 infection model described in cynomolgus macaques,’ Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

April 20: ‘COVID-19: New animal data back up Gilead’s remdesivir as other treatment candidates emerge,’ FierceBiotech

April 20: ‘Why the new coronavirus affects some animals, but not others,’ Smithsonian Magazine

April 18: ‘Is COVID-19 “reinfection” possible? What a study on monkeys shows,’ Gulf News

April 18: ‘Rocky Mountain Labs make advancements in race to combat COVID,’ NBC Montana 

“Investigators at Rocky Mountain Labs tested [remdesivir] in a non-human primate model, a SARS-Coronavirus Type 2 or Covid-19,” said RML’s associate director for scientific management, Dr. Marshall Bloom. “They found that this drug had significant affect in ameliorating the course and severity of COVID-19 infections in non-human primates, if given early enough during the course of the disease.”

April 17: ‘Coronavirus: Animal testing may be best tool to defeat COVID-19| Bailey,’ Asbury Park Press

April 17: ‘Investigational chimp adenovirus MERS-CoV vaccine protects monkeys,’ National Institutes of Health

April 17: ‘Remdesivir eases COVID-19 symptoms in monkeys in 12 hours, small preliminary study shows,’ Newsweek

April 17: ‘From mice to monkeys, animals studied for coronavirus answers,’ Science

April 16: ‘Scientists at Tulane National Primate Research Center studying vaccines, treatments for COVID-19,’ The Lens

April 14: ‘San Antonio researchers lead the race to create a coronavirus vaccine,’ KENS 5

“We have seven scientists and a staff of over 30 people working overtime on establishing [nonhuman primate] animal models,” Texas Biomed President and CEO Larry Schlesinger said.

April 14: ‘Why will it take so long to develop a COVID-19 vaccine?’ The Globe and Mail

April 13: ‘Saskatoon based lab’s COVID-19 vaccine in animal testing stage,’ DiscoverMooseJaw.com

April 13: ‘Clinical trials for promising COVID-19 drug underway in north Texas,’ KERA News

“Remdesivir is one of the unique compounds that actually gets stuck and makes the replication complex stop in its tracks,” Dr. Robert Gottlieb told KERA. “It has been used against SARS in vitro, and actually that’s why it became such a good lead compound with the current epidemic. … We’ve studied [SARS-CoV-1] and some similar viruses like [MERS] … both in small animals as well as in larger animals, and this remdesivir seems to work just fine in those cases.”

April 13: ‘Could a 100-year-old vaccine protect against COVID-19?’ Live Science

April 13: ‘How monkeys, ferrets, and horses are helping scientists fight Covid-19,’ Quartz 

April 13: ‘Mice, hamsters, ferrets, monkeys. Which lab animals can help defeat the new coronavirus?’ Science

April 13: ‘UC Davis researchers work toward developing potential vaccine for COVID-19,’ The Aggie

“We learned from [previous research] about basically how to grow this virus, what things might inhibit it, what are some vaccine strategies that could be tried and then we start to think about the biology of this new agent and whether these strategies are applicable,” said Denis Hartigan-O’Connor, an associate professor in the department of medical microbiology and immunology and a core scientist at the California National Primate Research Center.

April 12: ‘The real reason veterinarians gave a tiger a Covid-19 test,’ WIRED

“Veterinary diagnostic labs across the country are developing their own tests for Covid-19, and many use the same basic processes that human tests do,” the article said.

April 10: ‘Animal studies give hope to a future where a pill could prevent COVID-19 infection,’ ABC News

April 10: ‘Single-cell atlas of a non-human primate reveals new pathogenic mechanisms of COVID-19,’ bioRxiv

April 9: ‘The COVID-19 vaccine development landscape,’ Nature

“In order to assess vaccine efficacy, COVID-19 specific animal models are being developed, including ACE2-transgenic mice, hamsters, ferrets and non-human primates. Biosafety-level 3 containment measures are needed for animal studies involving live-virus challenges, and the demand for these capabilities is likely to require international coordination to ensure that sufficient laboratory capacity is available,” the article said.

April 8: ‘Flow Pharma announces start of pre-clinical efficacy study for FlowVax COVID-19 vaccine,’ Accesswire

“Flow Pharma, Inc., a San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company developing the FlowVax(TM) peptide vaccine platform technology, today announced that researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) will begin testing Flow Pharma’s FlowVax COVID-19 vaccine candidate by challenging nonhuman primates with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, after the animals are vaccinated this month with FlowVax COVID-19,” a press release said.

April 8: ‘Auburn’s CPAP-to-ventilator device passes major test on live animal,’ Auburn University

April 8: ‘Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals to SARS–coronavirus 2,’ Science 

April 8: ‘Tulane University awarded grant to start studies on COVID-19 vaccines,’ WVUE 

April 7: ‘Engineered virus might be able to block coronavirus infections, mouse study shows,’ American Society of Microbiology

April 7: ‘Army researchers start coronavirus vaccine testing on primates at Maryland’s Fort Detrick,’ Baltimore Sun

April 7: ‘New coronavirus drug shows promise in animal tests,’ Scientific American

April 7: ‘Army begins testing possible coronavirus vaccines on primates at Fort Detrick,’ The Hill

April 7: ‘See what it takes to make a vaccine during the coronavirus pandemic,’ The Hill

“When you talk about developing a vaccine for millions of people, safety is an enormous priority,” said Dr. Mark Poznansky, director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

April 6: ‘Promising drug on the horizon for COVID-19,’ NPR

Scientists from Emory University in Atlanta; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, reported promising results after testing the drug EIDD-2801 on mice infected with coronaviruses similar to the one that causes COVID-19.

April 6: ‘Army researchers begin animal testing of coronavirus vaccine,’ Military.com

April 6: ‘An orally bioavailable broad-spectrum antiviral inhibits SARS-CoV-2 in human airway epithelial cell cultures and multiple coronaviruses in mice,’ Science Translational Medicine

April 6: ‘Coronavirus patients rush to join studies of Gilead drug,’ The Associated Press

“In animal tests against SARS and MERS, diseases caused by similar coronaviruses, the drug helped prevent infection and reduced the severity of symptoms when given early enough in the course of illness,” the AP reported.

April 6: ‘Scientists around the globe pivot their research to SARS-CoV-2,’ The Scientist

BREAKING NEWS: April 6: ‘Tulane University awarded $10.3 million to test therapeutics, vaccines for novel coronavirus,’ Tulane

The Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana will study COVID-19 in three species of nonhuman primates and evaluate potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in the nonhuman primate species that most closely mimics the progression of the disease in a human.

April 2: ‘Coronavirus: Australian scientists begin tests of potential vaccines,’ BBC News

The World Health Organization cleared potential coronavirus vaccines for animal testing. Researchers in Australia have inserted vaccine samples into ferrets. “Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) says its tests will be the first comprehensive pre-clinical trials of the vaccines to use an animal model,” the article said.

April 2: ‘Pitt team makes progress on possible COVID-19 vaccine,’ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

April 2: ‘Pittsburgh scientists develop possible coronavirus vaccine, hope FDA can fast-track it,’ Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

April 2: ‘Potential COVID-19 vaccine shows promise in mouse study,’ Reuters

A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is working on a potential COVID-19 vaccine. It’s shown promise during initial tests in mice, scientists said.

April 2: ‘Chinese wildlife ban freezes export of test monkeys amid worldwide push for COVID-19 vaccine,’ The Globe and Mail

April 1: ‘Interview with Johnson & Johnson research head: vaccine development at “turbo speed” – knowledge,’ NewsyList

“We already have a lot of data on the safety of the vaccine candidate, because the necessary preclinical studies in nonhuman primates and animals have already been carried out,” J&J research chief Paul Stoffels said in an interview with the German newspaper Tagesspiegel.

April 1: ‘Texas Biomed receives $3M to expand coronavirus studies,’ Rivard Report

“Researchers will use the funds to amplify efforts to investigate how SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus – affects animals. Previously, research was limited to studying the effects on baboons, but now will include macaques, marmosets, mice, and guinea pigs,” the article said.

April 1: ‘Covid-19 changed how the world does science, together,’ The New York Times

April 1: ‘Georgia pharmaceutical lab working on COVID-19 vaccine, waiting on federal funds,’ WGXA 

BREAKING NEWS: March 31: ‘Testing to begin in metro Atlanta for COVID-19 vaccines,’ 11Alive News

GeoVax is preparing to test three candidate vaccines for the novel coronavirus in animals, CEO David Dodd says. With funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, GeoVax will use animal testing to zero in on the vaccine that is most likely to protect people from COVID-19, then scientists will test the most promising of them in clinical trials later this year.

March 31: ‘Israel tests coronavirus vaccine prototype on rodents at defense lab,’ Reuters

March 31: ‘Should pets be tested for coronavirus?’ Science

Veterinarians don’t have evidence that pets can spread SARS-CoV-2, but they want more information, and several labs have developed veterinary tests. Shelley Rankin, a microbiologist at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, says if pets were readily susceptible to the virus, a spike would have been noticed by now, and the USDA and many experts warn against widespread testing of pets for COVID-19.

March 30: ‘Trump administration orders $1.8M in coronavirus research monkeys,’ The Daily Beast

BREAKING NEWS: March 28: ‘Louisiana researchers studying monkeys for a coronavirus vaccine face challenges as state cases spike,’ ABC News

Scientists at the Tulane National Primate Research Center in Louisiana are working hard to fight COVID-19. ABC News gave an inside look at the challenges these researchers are up against.

March 27: ‘The US keeps millions of chickens in secret farms to make flu vaccines. But their eggs won’t work for coronavirus,’ CNN

About 82% of the 174.5 million doses of influenza vaccine distributed across the U.S. this season were produced in chicken eggs, according to the CDC, but the many chickens kept in secure facilities in the U.S. won’t be useful in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Coronaviruses and influenza viruses have different receptors and other characteristics, and the novel coronavirus can’t replicate inside eggs the way influenza can, says pathology professor John Nicholls.

BREAKING NEWS: March 26: ‘How monoclonal antibodies might prove useful against the coronavirus,’ NPR

Researchers are studying antibodies to find out how to beat COVID-19. “If the antibodies work to protect cells from infection, then researchers will test them in animals exposed to the virus — to see if the proteins prevent the animals from getting sick, or, alternatively, if they can improve the health of animals that are sick with a version of COVID-19,” the report said.

March 25: ‘Pirbright begins testing new coronavirus vaccines on animals to help combat COVID-19,’ The Pirbright Institute

March 24: ‘When might experimental drugs to treat Covid-19 be ready? A forecast,’ STAT

March 24: ‘Idexx Laboratories tested thousands of pets for coronavirus. None have come back positive,’ Today

March 23: ‘Oxford University prepares for coronavirus vaccine trial,’ pharmaphorum

March 22: ‘Africa’s mountain gorillas also at risk from coronavirus,’ The Associated Press

“We know that gorillas are very sensitive to human diseases,” Paula Kahumbu, chief executive of the Kenya-based conservation group WildlifeDirect, told the AP. “If anyone has a cold or a flu they are not allowed to go and see the gorillas. With coronavirus having such a long time of no symptoms in some cases, it means that we could actually put those gorillas at risk.”

March 21: ‘Second dog tests positive for coronavirus as owners warned not to abandon pets,’ MarketWatch

March 21: ‘University of Minnesota is going ‘full-on MacGyver’ against COVID-19,’ Star Tribune

March 20: ‘COVID-19: U of S lab develops animal model for COVID vaccine testing,’ The StarPhoenix

“The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) is the first Canadian lab to develop an animal model for COVID-19 vaccine testing,” the article said.

March 19: ‘Chloroquine, an old malaria drug, may help treat novel coronavirus, doctors say,’ ABC News

Chloroquine phosphate, an 85-year-old antiviral drug that has previously been used for the treatment of malaria, and its derivative hydroxychloroquine have recently shown promising in-vitro results in primate cells infected with SARS-CoV-2. Chloroquine phosphate became the first-choice antiviral drug for malaria after researchers discovered it drastically reduced mortality in African penguins with avian malaria.

March 19: ‘US primate centers work to protect animals from COVID-19,’ The Scientist

Monkeys are vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2. Primate center scientists are working to prevent colonies from infection.

March 18: ‘Macaque monkeys can’t become reinfected with COVID-19, small study suggests,’ Live Science

March 18: ‘Coronavirus vaccines: five key questions as trials begin,’ Nature

March 18: ‘HIV drug combo fails as treatment for severe COVID-19 in China study,’ Reuters

Extensive studies in a variety of nonhuman primates, including macaques, led to the development of lopinavir and ritonavir as HIV/AIDS combination anti-retroviral drugs. In 2015, researchers discovered that lopinavir and ritonavir improved outcomes in marmoset monkeys infected with the MERS coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Since SARS-COV-2 and MERS-CoV are both coronaviruses and share many similarities, researchers launched a clinical trial of lopinavir and ritonavir in patients with COVID-19 in China.

March 18: ‘Respirators, quarantines, and worst-case scenarios: Lab animal facilities grapple with the pandemic,’ Science

The heads of two animal facilities spoke with the academic journal about how they are dealing with COVID-19.

March 18: ‘Letter: I know lab animals are crucial in finding a COVID-19 vaccine,’ The Mercury News

March 17: ‘Regeneron says potential Covid-19 drugs could start human tests by early summer,’ STAT

Regeneron has developed hundreds of monoclonal antibody drugs that show potential for treating SARS-COV-2. Regeneron’s antibodies are produced in mice that have been genetically modified to have human-like immune systems.

March 17: ‘Singapore startup testing drug used to treat cats in race to find Covid-19 cure,’ Today

March 16: ‘First person injected with trial coronavirus vaccine in Seattle,’ Forbes

Moderna and NIAID are currently investigating a potential messenger RNA vaccine for the new coronavirus. A clinical trial in humans has begun in Seattle for the mRNA-1273 vaccine. Despite reports to the contrary, the clinical trial began after mRNA-1273 was tested in mice.

March 16: ‘Why animal research is essential to tackling Covid-19,’ Spiked

March 16: ‘As the coronavirus spreads, a drug that once raised the world’s hopes is given a second shot,’ STAT

Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir is currently being tested in five human clinical trials for its effectiveness against the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Pre-clinical research in laboratory mice and other animals demonstrated that remdesivir was effective against the MERS and SARS coronaviruses.

March 14: ‘These lab animals will help fight coronavirus,’ The New York Times

Researchers, such as those at The Jackson Laboratory in Maine, are breeding transgenic mice. Experts will test different strains of transgenic mice as well as a variety of other laboratory animals including nonhuman primates to determine which ones are susceptible to infection with the virus.

March 13: ‘Did an experimental drug help a U.S. coronavirus patient?’ Science

Doctors tested remdesivir on a critically ill patient with COVID-19 in California. An infectious disease specialist on the team treating the patient answered questions about the case. In February, Gilead and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) published a paper demonstrating that remdesivir inhibited the replication of the coronavirus MERS in infected monkeys.

March 12: ‘Quarantine the cat? Disinfect the dog? The latest advice about the coronavirus and your pets,’ Science 

March 11: ‘A virus cure depends on rare lab mice, but there aren’t enough,’ Bloomberg Businessweek

“It’s a basic rule of medical research: Before you inject anything into humans, conduct experiments on animals—frequently mice—to determine whether treatments are safe and effective. In the race to develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus, however, your everyday mouse won’t do,” Bloomberg correspondent Bruce Einhorn wrote.

March 11: ‘CSU researchers are working full-bore on the mysteries of coronavirus — and a vaccine,’ Colorado Public Radio News

March 11: ‘As pressure for coronavirus vaccine mounts, scientists debate risks of accelerated testing,’ Reuters 

Reuters reported:

“Given the urgency to stem the spread of the new coronavirus, some drugmakers are moving straight into small-scale human tests, without waiting for the completion of such animal tests.

‘I understand the importance of accelerating timelines for vaccines in general, but from everything I know, this is not the vaccine to be doing it with,’ Dr Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told Reuters.”

March 11: ‘The best hope for coronavirus treatment is an experimental drug that fizzled against Ebola,’ The Washington Post

March 11: ‘Repurposed drugs may help scientists fight the new coronavirus,’ Science News

March 10: ‘How close are biotechs to bringing a COVID-19 treatment to market?’ Benzinga

March 9: ‘LSU School of Veterinary Medicine producing coronavirus vaccines for testing,’ LOCAL 33/FOX 44

Researchers will test potential vaccines in mice.

March 9: ‘Labs rush to study coronavirus in transgenic animals — some are in short supply,’ Nature

March 9: ‘Why a coronavirus vaccine is more than a year away, despite medical researchers’ progress,’ USA Today

Preclinical tests involve research in animals to make sure a vaccine is safe. “If the vaccine protects in animal models, it can be made pure enough to be tested on humans,” Dr. Bart Haynes told USA TODAY.

March 7: ‘Texas baboon troop enlisted in humankind’s war on coronavirus,’ Bloomberg

“Animal research has played a critical role in virtually every medical advance over the last century,” said Matthew R. Bailey, president of the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

March 5: ‘From ferrets to mice and marmosets, labs scramble to find right animals for coronavirus studies,’ STAT

“Every day, it seems another company announces an attempt to make its own virus-fighting vials. But to test an experimental formulation, scientists can’t just jump from Petri dishes into people,” STAT News reporter Eric Boodman wrote. “They need to try it in critters first, to check that the stuff is safe and effective.”

March 3: ‘Could GSK reject benefit COVID-19 patients?’ BioWorld

APN01 is a recombinant human Angiotensin Converting Enzyme produced by APEIRON Biologics that successfully blocked viral spread of SARS-CoV-2 and minimized lung injury when tested in laboratory mice. APN01 is now entering the clinical trial phase with COVID-19 patients in China.

March 2: ‘Opinion: Animal rights groups choose coronavirus over your safety,’ The Detroit News

The Detroit News published an opinion editorial written by FBR’s president on the importance of animal research in the search for a vaccine to control the coronavirus outbreak.

Feb. 17: ‘Live coronavirus samples now at Tulane’s Primate Center on Northshore for research,’ WWL-TV (New Orleans)

The Tulane National Primate Research Center launched a research project to understand COVID-19 with animal models. The researchers are trying to understand how the disease spreads and progresses in nonhuman primates.

Feb. 16: ‘“A completely new culture of doing research.” Coronavirus outbreak changes how scientists communicate,’ Science

Feb. 11: ‘UW–Madison researchers lead efforts to understand, thwart new coronavirus,’ UW–Madison News

“We are working together to develop a plan to build out nonhuman primate models to test medical countermeasures such as vaccines and therapeutics,” said David O’Connor, professor at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “We want to make sure we are recapitulating the kind of clinical signs (of virus infection) that happen in people.”

Feb. 2: ‘With coronavirus spreading, now is not the time for restrictions on animal research,’ International Business Times


Basic Research

We would like to say a word about the role of research animals in basic research to understand how COVID-19 infects humans and animals. A basic research study in macaque monkeys revealed that monkeys who recovered from COVID-19 developed some immunity to the SARS-COV-2 virus and did not get reinfected with the virus. Further basic research studies will be conducted to confirm these results. Several other teams of researchers are studying how the SARS-COV-2 virus jumped from animals to humans by using data from studies of other coronaviruses like SARS and MERS in bats, civets, pangolins, and camels. Here are a few good articles on basic research to understand the zoonotic transmission of COVID-19 from animals to humans:

April 26: ‘Recombinant protein produces neutralizing COVID-19 antibodies in primate model,’ Medical Research News

April 21: ‘COVID-19 infection model described in cynomolgus macaques,’ Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

April 18: ‘Is COVID-19 “reinfection” possible? What a study on monkeys shows,’ Gulf News

April 10: ‘Single-cell atlas of a non-human primate reveals new pathogenic mechanisms of COVID-19,’ bioRxiv

March 24: ‘Coronavirus could be a “chimera” of two different viruses, genome analysis suggests,’ Science Alert

March 17: ‘COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic has a natural origin,’ ScienceDaily

March 16: ‘Which species transmit COVID-19 to humans? We’re still not sure,’ The Scientist


Keep checking this page and social media channels, as well as our weekly SmartBrief, for future updates on animal research in the fight against COVID-19.

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Photo credit: Foundation for Biomedical Research
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What is Animal Research?

Animal research is the study of animals for scientific and medical discovery. Research animals, also called lab animals, are bred specifically for research. Studying lab animals gives researchers important insights into how a disease works in the body. Once they understand how a disease works, they can begin to develop and test treatments with the help of animals.  

What is Animal Testing?

Animal testing is essential for understanding the safety and proper dosages of new medicines and treatments. If researchers find that a drug is safe and effective through animal testing, they can begin testing it in small groups of people and then larger groups of people. Both extensive human and animal testing is required by law before a drug can be approved. 

Why is it necessary?

Nearly every medicine, medical device, surgical procedure or therapy we have today has depended on animal testing and research. It’s one of the first steps in medical discovery. To understand how a disease works in the body, scientists study the disease in animals. Animal research gives them the knowledge they need to discover and create treatments to help both people and animals living with illnesses.

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