Alexander Ploss among Princeton researchers studying the impacts of COVID-19
“Many members of the Princeton faculty reached out with requests for opportunities to use their knowledge, ideas and skills to assist in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti. In response, the University created a fund of over half a million dollars to support research on COVID-19.
Alexander Ploss received part of this funding with a goal to make SARS-CoV-2 safer for handling in the laboratory. Ploss and his team are developing a less virulent version of the virus. The strain, developed by reverse engineering the virus, lacks components needed to infect cells. Researchers can use this non-infectious version to test new therapies.
To search for treatments for SARS-CoV-2 acute respiratory distress syndrome, the team collaborated with scientists at Boston University to develop new mouse models that contain human lung tissue. The Ploss lab and their collaborators in Boston are working on a vaccine against the virus modeled on a successful vaccine against yellow fever.
“In addition to these lines of experiments, we have been able to establish very productive collaborations with others at Princeton to identify components that are essential for SARS-CoV-2 entry and replication,” Ploss said.