Animal Model Alternatives in Filovirus and Bornavirus Research

Lina Widerspick, Johanna Friederike Steffen, Dennis Tappe, César Muñoz-Fontela

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The order Mononegavirales contains a variety of highly pathogenic viruses that may infect humans, including the families Filoviridae, Bornaviridae, Paramyxoviridae, and Rhabodoviridae. Animal models have historically been important to study virus pathogenicity and to develop medical countermeasures. As these have inherent shortcomings, the rise of microphysiological systems and organoids able to recapitulate hallmarks of the diseases caused by these viruses may have enormous potential to add to or partially replace animal modeling in the future. Indeed, microphysiological systems and organoids are already used in the pharmaceutical R&D pipeline because they are prefigured to overcome the translational gap between model systems and clinical studies. Moreover, they may serve to alleviate ethical concerns related to animal research. In this review, we discuss the value of animal model alternatives in human pathogenic filovirus and bornavirus research. The current animal models and their limitations are presented followed by an overview of existing alternatives, such as organoids and microphysiological systems, which might help answering open research questions.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • animal models
  • bornaviruses
  • filoviruses
  • microphysiological systems
  • organoids
  • organs-on-chips


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