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Genetic science research

Yuntao Wu and Ramin Hakami investigating COVID-19 therapies


School of Systems Biology's Ramin Hakami and Yuntao Wu

Yuntao Wu, Professor, Molecular and Microbiology, and Ramin Hakami, Associate Professor, School of Systems Biology, are conducting studies of COVID-19 therapies.

Recent work from several independent groups has demonstrated that K18-hACE2 transgenic mice serve as an appropriate animal model for studying COVID-19.

Published research has shown that ACE2 is the human cell entry receptor for both SARS and SARS-CoV-2. Research has also shown that K18-hACE2 mice can be used to establish symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection that recapitulates many of the COVID-19 findings in human patients, either by infection through the intranasal (IN) route or by intraperitoneal (IP) injection of the virus. Thus, the K18-hACE2 model of SARS-CoV-2 infection recapitulates many features of severe COVID-19 infection in humans and can be used as an in vivo model for testing vaccines and antivirals.

The tasks that Wu and Hakami will complete as part of this testing agreement will be used to gauge the efficacy of therapeutics developed by Dejia Harmony against COVID-19, using the K18-hACE2 mouse model. Following toxicity testing to verify lack of adverse effects on mice, the researchers will test for both therapeutic efficacy and prophylactic efficacy of the therapeutics.

Wu and Hakami received $97,724 from Dejia Harmony for this work. Funding began in November 2020 and will end in November 2021.