‘It will be valuable for drug discovery, basic research, vaccine testing and development of new diagnostics.’
Researchers from Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute, Queensland, Australia, the University of Tartu, Estonia, along with the University of Glasgow and University of Dundee in Scotland, UK, have developed a covid-19 laboratory research toolkit.
The toolkit, which is to be shared with researchers worldwide, is designed to accelerate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development, drug discovery and fundamental research, particularly in laboratories unaccustomed to working with coronavirus. The research has been published in PLOS Biology.
The kit includes a SARs-CoV-2 reverse genetics system, derived from the original Wuhan-Hu-1 isolate. This genetic tool allows researchers to make synthetic infectious coronaviruses using specially constructed DNA plasmid that can grow in bacteria, and then used to make viruses in cultured mammalian cells. This will allow researchers to easily manipulate the coronavirus genome and permit the study of individual SARS-CoV-2 mutations or combinations of mutation such as those found in the new variants.
Lead researcher Professor Suresh Mahalingam, a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Professor and Principal Research Leader at the Menzies Health Institute, Queensland Griffith University said ‘Based on the original Wuhan virus, this system has several genetic modifications that enable far more effective and productive research investigations than using the natural virus itself. It will be valuable for drug discovery, basic research, vaccine testing and development of new diagnostics.’