Rapid Response Strategies to Control Emerging Coronavirus Infections
Ralph S. Baric, PhD
Department of Epidemiology and Microbiology and Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA
Emerging and re-emerging coronaviruses have the potential to cause significant morbidity and mortality in human and animal populations, worldwide. In this century, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and a series of novel animal coronaviruses have emerged suddenly from animal reservoirs, leading to severe pneumonia and enteric infections in their mammalian hosts. In this presentation, we develop and apply a metagenomic strategy, coupled with synthetic biology, reverse genetics and novel animal models of human disease, to functionally interrogate and identify high risk pre-emergent zoonotic coronaviruses that are poised for future emergence. We compare and contrast emergent and preemergent threat coronaviruses receptor usage, growth in a variety of primary human and animal cells, and perform comparative pathogenesis studies in novel mouse models of human disease, further supported by systems biology and genetic approaches. While these basic studies are designed to inform phylogenetically conserved and unique virulence determinants and disease pathways used by emergent and high threat zoonotic coronaviruses of the future, a long-term goal is to provide panels of well characterized, genetically divergent emerging coronaviruses and animal models of disease that allow us to rapidly identify universally effective therapeutics and to develop, test and evaluate emerging coronavirus vaccine breadth, thereby protecting the public from pandemic coronavirus disease threats of the future.
This work has been supported by research grants from the NIH AID AI107810, AI106772, AI109680, and AI109761.