Gen-H assists CNIO to fight SARS Cov2

Jun 18, 2020

Gen-H assists the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre CNIO to develop humanised mice as preclinical models to test new drugs against SARS-CoV-2

Gen-H has a well-established long-term business relationship with the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre CNIO in Madrid with more than eighty joint projects. The main partner at the CNIO is the head of the Mouse Genome Editing Core Unit, Dr. Sagrario Ortega.

Dr. Ortega and her group received a grant from the Spanish Government to develop genetically modified mice that reproduce the SARS-CoV-2 infections in humans. Once more Gen-H assists her team with its long-standing experience and knowledge in the planning and construction of several DNA constructs.

The outbreak of Covid-19 makes it necessary to have optimized mouse models available for basics research and to test new drugs against SARS-CoV-2. The protein ACE2 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-2) serves as the main entrance point for the virus into human cells. Mouse ACE2 is different from human ACE2, particularly in the domain recognized by the SARS-CoV-2. As a result, mice are resistant to infection. “Genetic engineering enables us to replace the mouse Ace2 gene with the human one so that the animals have the virus receptor in the same cells and tissues and with the same expression regulation as in humans,” Dr. Ortega observes. Gen-H will therefore assemble constructs for humanization of the genomic mouse locus.

The joint expertise and fruitful collaboration between the CNIO and Gen-H will provide valuable mouse models for the fight against Covid-19 in an extraordinary short period of time. As Dr. Ortega stated “the experimental models will be made available to the scientific community for further research into this disease”.

Please find the official press release of the CNIO here:

Further background information:

The Mouse Genome Editing Core Unit was one of the first groups in Spain to work systematically on the design and development of genetically modified mice, using gene targeting techniques to introduce targeted mutations in the mouse genome. At present, it holds notable prestige in Spain and is internationally renowned in the field of transgenesis and genome editing. A good number of relevant DNA constructs for Dr. Ortega team were prepared by the group of Dr. Harald Kranz while he headed the former DNA Engineering Service Unit at Gene Bridges GmbH. The service unit became “Gen-H Genetic Engineering Heidelberg GmbH” in January 2020 by a management buyout and continues the established collaboration with the CNIO.

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