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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a highly lethal emerging disease caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV. New lethal animal models for SARS were needed to facilitate antiviral research. We adapted and characterized a new strain of SARS-CoV (strain v2163) that was highly lethal in 5–6 week old BALB/c mice. It had nine mutations affecting 10 amino acid residues. Strain v2163 increased IL-1α, IL-6, MIP-1α, MCP-1, and RANTES in mice, and high IL-6 expression correlated with mortality. The infection largely mimicked human disease, but lung pathology lacked hyaline membrane formation. In vitro efficacy against v2163 was shown with known inhihibitors of SARSCoV replication. In v2163-infected mice, Ampligen™ was fully protective, stinging nettle lectin (UDA) was partially protective, ribavirin was disputable and possibly exacerbated disease, and EP128533 was inactive. Ribavirin, UDA and Ampligen™ decreased IL-6 expression. Strain v2163 provided a valuable model for anti-SARS research.


This article was originally published by Elsevier in Virology.

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