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Development of a physiologically relevant lung model for understanding SARS-CoV-2 infection

COVID-19 is known to infect the lungs; however, the dynamics of viral infection and replication are poorly understood. Alongside the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Professor Lyle Armstrong and colleagues have been working to develop a human lung epithelium model of SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication. In this article, he describes data that show the model can be successfully infected with SARS‑CoV-2 via angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins expressed on the cell surface and allows replication of the virus once inside its cells. The model provides a valuable platform to study SARS‑CoV-2 pathogenesis and evaluate candidate vaccines and therapeutics.

Covid-19

Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2

In December 2019, new unexplained cases of pneumonia and respiratory distress were reported by officials in Wuhan, China.1 In January 2020, the pathogen was identified as a coronavirus similar to the pathogen that caused previous pandemics such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and was therefore named SARS-CoV-2.2 Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, several of which are known to infect humans, causing primarily respiratory tract infections. The first four (229E, NL63, OC43 and HKU1) generally produce milder symptoms, whereas MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 are more life-threatening. This has proven to be particularly true of the latter, since it spread so quickly that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a public health emergency on 30 January 2020 and subsequently a pandemic on 11 March 2020. At the time of writing, more than 34 million cases have been reported across 188 countries and territories, with the number of deaths exceeding one million.3











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