Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Intestine Infection

Watching the behaviour and response to SARS-CoV-2 in lab-grown intestinal tissue

05 July 2020

Intestine Infection

The global COVID-19 pandemic has sent millions of lives spinning. Our lack of knowledge about this particular virus is its greatest threat, so scientists have been hard at work investigating its biology. One of the many unanswered questions was whether the virus could proliferate in the intestine, as well as in the respiratory organs. Now researchers have successfully grown the virus in tiny lab-grown versions of the intestine called organoids (pictured, green and blue, with the coronavirus highlighted in white), showing it is capable of settling in and multiplying. This may explain why the virus can often be detected in stool samples, and why around a third of patients experience symptoms like diarrhoea. The researchers were able to watch the virus multiply, and observe the cells’ response, revealing key details about how the virus survives, and providing a platform for studying the disease to reveal its secrets and develop new treatments.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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