Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Tackling COVID Complexity

Mouse model demonstrates effects of SARS-CoV-2 on multiple organs

10 January 2021

Tackling COVID Complexity

One of the mysteries surrounding SARS-CoV-2 infections is the wide variety of symptoms and outcomes – from having no signs of disease at all right through to death. Furthermore, while some patients have a short-lived cough and fever, others may have a series of strange symptoms lasting months. To understand more about the varied effects of the virus, scientists have engineered mice to carry the human ACE2 receptor (the virus’s entry point) throughout the cells of their bodies. Sure enough, when infected with SARS-CoV-2, such animals exhibited pathologies in multiple organs, not just the lungs. The damaged and disorganised cells of an infected animal’s heart are shown on the right, for example, with a healthy heart of an uninfected animal shown left. The researchers also found evidence that some virus-induced changes might be long lasting, suggesting the animals could be valuable for understanding and developing ways to treat long-haul COVID.

Written by Ruth Williams

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