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A New Tool in the Fight Against COVID-19

Real-time SARS-CoV PCR assay for animal diagnostic screening

Sarbecovirus is a subgenus of Betacoronaviruses and are quickly gaining notoriety for their zoonotic capability and role in two global human outbreaks. An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated Coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-1) in 2002 and 2003, and the more recent 2019-2020 SARS-CoV-2 outbreak both are believed to have their zoonotic origin in Asian mammal reservoirs where genetically similar viruses have been identified.

Charles River’s Research Animal Diagnostic Services has designed a Sarbecovirus (SARS-CoV) real-time PCR to assist with precautionary screening of non-human primates and other research animals that may be susceptible to SARS-CoV infection (e.g., models with human ACE2 receptors). The assay has been designed to be broadly reactive and capable of detecting all known sequences of human and animal strains of Sarbecovirus.

To date, there are no known cases of natural transmission of SARS-CoV from humans to research animals, and infection of research animals with SARS-CoV requires direct inoculation with a high dose virus. The risk of natural transmission from humans to research animals is unlikely, and therefore Charles River recommends that routine screening of most research animal models is unnecessary.