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Funded for the year 2021

Ex vivo organ cultures for testing innovative antivirals against SARS-CoV-2 and Nipah virus

Collaboration between the groups IbIV and VIRIM

Both Nipah virus (NiV) and SARS-CoV-2 are respiratory pathogens representing a major threat to human populations. There is no efficient treatment for the disease they provoke. Recent drawbacks in the development of a cure against SARS-CoV-2 have stressed the need for better in vitro models predicting the in vivo efficacy of antiviral candidates. Besides, an alternative to in vivo experimentation is needed for accelerating validation steps and comply with the 3R’s animal welfare principles (replacement, reduction, refinement). To address these points, the IBIV team has developed ex vivo cultures of hamster organs that can be efficiently infected by NiV or SARS-CoV-2 for testing antivirals. Besides, the VIRIMI team has identified metabolic pathways representing vulnerability points for SARS-CoV-2 and NiV replication, and compounds targeting these metabolic pathways exhibit both antiviral and immunostimulatory properties in standard cell cultures. Supporting data in more relevant in vitro models closer to in vivo conditions are now required to study their therapeutic potential. This project is taking advantage of the organ culture system we have developed to further study the impact of these molecules on cellular metabolism and immunity, and test their antiviral properties against SARS-CoV-2 and NiV. This will secure paths to in vivo evaluations of these innovative antiviral strategies. It will also set the basis for the development of new ex vivo organ culture models in response to the scientific community needs in the fields of physiology, immunology and microbiology.








The picture displays hamster brain cultures infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus