WUSM scientists create a safer version of virus to speed research

The virus that causes COVID-19 is so dangerous that scientists studying it must wear full-body biohazard suits with pressurized respirators inside high-level biosafety labs.

But scientists at Washington University School of Medicine have developed a defanged virus that acts like SARS-CoV-2, but that can be handled under ordinary lab safety conditions, according to a study published online in Cell Host & Microbe. This can allow for faster development of drugs and vaccines.

“I’ve never had this many requests for a scientific material in such a short period of time,” said co-senior author Sean Whelan, PhD. “Even before we published, people heard that we were working on this and started requesting the material.”