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  • Toolkit Supports Global Research into COVID-19 Variants
    Dario Alessi (Credit: University of Glasgow)

Toolkit Supports Global Research into COVID-19 Variants

Mar 30 2021 Read 17 Times

An international consortium, led by scientists in Scotland, have recently devised

a coronavirus Toolkit giving researchers from across the world open access to materials, including antibodies and genetic tools, to further research into COVID-19.

Designed and validated by scientists at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR) in partnership with the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC PPU) at the University of Dundee, the toolkit is important for many avenues of COVID research, including characterising new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It will also help researchers to improve our understanding of COVID-19 disease, monitor vaccine efficacy and evaluate additional treatment options for COVID-19, as well as helping to aid preparedness for future coronavirus pandemics.

 Dr Sam Wilson, Senior Research Fellow at the CVR, said: “Unfortunately COVID-19 is not over, and much remains unknown about this disease. Having the right tools is essential for any scientist studying SARS-CoV-2 and our toolkit will allow researchers to conduct experiments not previously possible.

“The development of vaccines for COVID-19 is encouraging, but there is still a lot to learn about this virus. The simple genetic tools we’ve made available to the community will help scientists understand the role of individual changes in new variants of SARS-CoV-2 (which often contain multiple individual changes) – and our online toolkit and portal will allow scientists to access antibodies and other tools for research, at cost, at the click of a few buttons.”

Suzannah Rihn, Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the CVR, said: “The recent vaccination successes offer us a way out of this pandemic. However, vigilance is required, as more viral variants may continue to emerge, and these may be resistant (or partially resistant) to the vaccines. It is likely that future vaccinations will be required in years to come. The tools we’ve made openly available to the scientific community will allow scientists to engineer these variants and study them in the lab”.

Professor Dario Alessi, Director of the MRC PPU at Dundee, said: “We are delighted to have been able to use our expertise and facilities to support this valuable project. I thank the dedicated work of dozens of our Unit’s researchers who have contributed to this project. Generating similar toolkits of reagents to other viruses and pathogens should be considered.”

 The paper, ‘A Plasmid DNA-Launched SARS-CoV-2 1 Reverse Genetics System and

2 Coronavirus Toolkit for COVID-19 Research,’ is published in PLOS Biology.

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