Coronavirus research Toolkit collaboration produces its second major publication

Published on 1 March 2021

The MRC PPU’s collaboration with the MRC CVR in Glasgow to generate a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus Toolkit has yielded its second important publication.

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The Toolkit gives researchers from across the world open access to a wide range of key reagents to accelerate Covid-19 research. The resources and technologies available in the Toolkit, include cDNA clones, proteins and affinity purified antibodies to virtually all of the SARS-CoV-2 genes as well as related coronavirus proteins. The many staff within the MRC PPU Reagents and Services and MRC PPU labs who worked on generating and characterizing these reagents are pictured in the photo.

The Toolkit also includes SARS-CoV-2 infectious clones, generated at the CVR Glasgow as well as Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.

All these reagents together with detailed QC sheets have been made openly available to research groups worldwide to accelerate research through a user-friendly. In addition, patient isolates and cell lines are made available through additional established biorepositories.

The Toolkit was developed to meet an urgent need for validated laboratory resources to facilitate research in labs unaccustomed to working with coronaviruses.

When new viruses emerge, very little is known about them, and currently there are very few labs within the UK with the capabilities to generate mutant viruses and harness these viral mutations for research. The Toolkit and its reverse genetics system make materials accessible to other biology labs who are keen to make an impact to further research into SARS-CoV-2 .

“We are delighted to have been able to use our expertise and facilities to support this valuable project. I thank the dedicated work of dozens of our Unit’s researchers who have contributed to this project. Generating similar Toolkits of reagents to other viruses and pathogens should be considered. Our the MRC PPU Reagents and Services would be delighted to contribute to this task.” Professor Dario Alessi, MRC PPU Director

The paper, 'A Plasmid DNA-Launched SARS-CoV-2 1 Reverse Genetics System and 2 Coronavirus Toolkit for Covid-19 Research', is published in PLOS Biology. 17 members of our staff are co-authors on this study.

A previous publication in Science late last year also made use of the Toolkit to understand how protein interaction networks were involved in pan-viral disease mechanism.

The toolkit can be found here: Acknowledgement of support from the UK Medical Research Council for enabling this project.