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In March 2020, Addgene closed for two weeks. Universities around the world were shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Addgene needed to figure out how to respond. When we reopened, it was with a plan to ensure that scientists around the world would have access to the reagents necessary to understand, research, and combat this disease.
We realized quickly that scientists in all sorts of institutions were mobilizing to study SARS-CoV-2. That’s why it was immediately important that the plasmids in our COVID-19 and Coronavirus Plasmids & Resources collection became available to scientists in academic and industry institutions. Over the past year and a half, the number of plasmids available to industry scientists grew from 640 to nearly 5,000. Over 2,000 of those plasmids are useful for COVID-19 research. The growth of Addgene’s industry-available collection started with a handful of universities who stepped up early in the pandemic to make their plasmids available to academic and industry scientists alike.
Plasmids from Fritz Roth’s lab at Sinai Health System (Toronto), and Hyeryun Choe’s lab, at Boston Children’s Hospital at the time, were among the first COVID-19 plasmids made available to industry scientists. Their paths to this point were very different, however.
The hACE2 plasmid from Hyeryun Choe’s lab was published in 2003 and deposited at Addgene in 2006. ACE2 was originally identified during the SARS pandemic of the early 2000s as playing a key role in viral entry into cells. When ACE2 was found to have a similar role in SARS-CoV-2 infection in mid-March of 2020, interest in this plasmid skyrocketed: 95% of the orders for this plasmid have come in 2020 and 2021! This plasmid reached the coveted Blue Flame Award status (awarded to plasmids with over 100 requests) in 2020, and has now been ordered over 500 times.
Meanwhile, 98 plasmids for SARS-CoV-2 research were developed and deposited by Fritz Roth’s lab soon after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these plasmids were immediately shared with both academic and industry scientists. These plasmids encode Gateway-compatible entry vectors with inserts from SARS-CoV-2 coding regions. Four of these plasmids have already reached Blue Flame status! Another batch of Gateway-compatible entry vectors encoding SARS-CoV-2 inserts will become available soon—you can subscribe to updates about Fritz Roth lab plasmids to be notified when these plasmids are available.
Addgene’s COVID-19 and Coronavirus Plasmids & Resources collection now contains nearly 2,500 plasmids related to COVID-19 research. It includes plasmids encoding SARS-CoV-2 structural proteins, mammalian proteins that have been identified as having a key role in coronavirus infection, and useful tools for studying coronaviruses. Scientists worked quickly to develop and share these tools with the scientific community, and at Addgene, we did our part to ensure rapid distribution of these reagents.
Teams at Addgene mobilized to put an internal system into place that was used to prioritize requests for and deposits of COVID-19 plasmids. Incoming deposits of COVID-19-related plasmids went through an accelerated quality control process and became available to scientists as quickly as possible. Requests for these plasmids were then prioritized so that labs studying COVID-19 would receive their plasmids as quickly as possible. This system was deployed less than a month after the pandemic began. Since then, Addgene has distributed over 12,000 COVID-19 research plasmids to academic and industry institutions all over the world.
Sharing speeds science. Addgene is proud to be part of accelerating research and discovery into COVID-19—as well as other diseases. Right now, Addgene has industry-available plasmids for research into Parkinson’s disease, solute carrier proteins, and more. And if you are an industry scientist who can’t yet find the plasmid you’re looking for, let us know! We’ll do our best to add it to the collection.
View Addgene’s COVID-19 and Coronavirus Plasmids & Resources Collection