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Taconic Biosciences to distribute critical COVID-19 mouse model

Taconic Biosciences to distribute critical COVID-19 mouse model

23 June 2020
Image: Volodymyr Hryshchenko

Taconic Biosciences has announced an exclusive agreement with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) to distribute humanised ACE2 mice for coronavirus research.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, uses the ACE2 receptor to enter cells, causing infection. Due to differences between the mouse and human ACE2 receptors, normal laboratory mice cannot be infected with SARS-CoV2. Transgenic mice which express the human ACE2 receptor overcome this challenge and are critical for COVID-19 research and treatments. 

Dr. Chien-Te Kent Tseng, professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and colleagues at UTMB generated humanized ACE2 mice as part of SARS virus (SARS-CoV) research in 2007 and characterised them in several scientific publications. After discovering that ACE2 was the receptor for the virus that causes COVID-19, these old mice now had new value. Taconic is combining Dr. Tseng's models and expertise with decades of successful mouse model commercialisation to bring this resource to COVID-19 researchers. 

"Taconic offered its assistance at a crucial moment, speeding up the timeline for developing these models. Combining our unique areas of expertise to advance COVID-19 research is a great example of how research institutions can partner with commercial organisations," said Sundeep Mattamana, Executive Director in the Office of Technology Transfer at UTMB. "Our office is committed to developing these relationships as a pathway to accelerate research and discoveries." 

UTMB will use the hACE2 mice for studies within several internal laboratories and the Galveston National Laboratory, but also recognises the value to the broader scientific community. UTMB and Taconic signed an exclusive license for distribution of these models and efforts to scale up colonies are underway. Mice will be available to both for-profit and non-profit researchers, with Taconic subsidising distribution to the latter. The agreement also includes UTMB's humanized DPP4 mouse, implicated as a possible co-receptor for SARS-CoV-2. 

"Access to the right resources is critical to expedite COVID-19 research. Taconic is leveraging strengths in transgenic mouse production and global distribution to get accurate models into the hands of scientists studying COVID-19 treatment and vaccine development," said Michael Seiler, Vice President of commercial models at Taconic. "The hACE2 and hDPP4 mouse models complement Taconic's extensive COVID-19 Toolkit," he added. 

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