Corona viruses are a risk and a danger, not only to humans, but also to numerous animal species in Switzerland.
- Corona viruses may be zoonotic (transmissible from animals to humans).
- Animals function as a reservoir or intermediate host.
Research into these viruses is essential for control and prevention, as at present vaccines are not available for all diseases, and thus huge economic damage may result.
Duties of the IVI
- Preparing for corona virus outbreaks (PEDV) and zoonotic corona viruses (MERS-CoV, SARS CoV 2)
- Development of diagnostic techniques
- Development of vaccines
- Development of antiviral substances
Improved COVID-19 vector vaccine candidate
In response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, numerous research projects have been launched to develop vaccines against this emerging pathogen. In a recent publication in the Nature portfolio journal “npj vaccines”, scientists at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and the University of Bern report on a Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Their work shows that intramuscular immunization of mice with VSV-vectored COVID-19 vaccines is inducing strong antibody responses against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein only if the vector has been complemented with the VSV glycoprotein G.
As part of the research on the human placenta as a target of SARS-CoV-2 (Fahmi et al, 2021), the research team of PD Dr. Marco Alves (Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI and the University of Bern) has developed an in vitro model of the human placenta. This physiological model provides a platform that paves the way for a significant replacement of in vivo approaches when evaluating pathophysiological mechanisms of virus infection during pregnancy. This new model contributes to promote the 3R Principle that aims to replace, reduce, and refine animal experimentation, and more particularly the principle of replacement.
By publishing the exact method, as developed, in the scientific journal STAR Protocols (Fahmi et al., 2022), other research teams will be able to reproduce this technique – which ultimatly may help to reduce the use of animals whenever possible.
Animal experimentation is applied to address a biological problem when no alternative method exists. The Institute of Virology and Immunology IVI is committed to the development of alternative methods.
Method of the novel in vitro model: from placental sampling to tissue culture, thereby enabling subsequent studies of the human placenta, for example after an infection from SARS-CoV-2.
What happens in the human placenta after SARS-CoV-2 infection? The IVI and CHUV research teams found that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the cells of the human placenta and that the virus can proliferate and infect neighboring placental cells.
Last modification 02.08.2022