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Which Model to Use?

Researchers are scrambling to determine which animal models might be the best ones in which to study COVID-19, Science writes.

It notes that mice, that laboratory workhorse, might not be the best option to study the disease as they are unaffected by SARS-CoV-2. But engineering mice so that they have the human ACE2 receptor that the virus uses to enter cells could get around that issue, Science says, adding that a similar approach was used to study SARS.

Another method, though, might be to use other model organisms like rats, hamsters, ferrets, or even monkeys, Science says. It notes that ferrets are often used to study influenza, as they not only can be infected with the flu virus but also experience symptoms similar to those of humans, but they appear less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. Studying the disease in monkeys could more quickly inform drug and vaccine research, it adds, noting that they are expensive to use.

"It might turn out that some models are not really worth pursuing after we do this sort of foundational work, but I just don't think we're there yet," the University of Wisconsin's Dave O'Connor tells Science. "We need to let the data guide us."