Lung organoids are a modern marvel—and perhaps one of the most remarkable things about them is that they evolved just in time to help with a global pandemic.
Researchers have been using organoids to better understand common respiratory conditions such as the flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Zika virus. When SARS-CoV-2 first broke out in Wuhan, China, it was expected that organoids might offer hope in the fight against the emerging coronavirus.
It has. Organoids have helped scientists learn more about the mechanics of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including aspects of ACE2 receptor binding and the cytokine storm. Studying infectivity has been instrumental in developing new treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. It's too early to know for sure, but organoids might even help scientists study the viral variants making the novel coronavirus even more contagious.
These developments point toward an optimistic future post-pandemic, says Elizabeth Abraham, a business manager at Corning Life Sciences.
"The mechanistic pathway to infection is important for us to understand before we develop antiviral drugs to attack SARS-CoV-2," Abraham said. "We need to understand those basic mechanisms of infectivity, and lung organoids can support that exploration."
How can scientists get started with organoids, and what should they know about SARS-CoV-2 infectivity? We caught up with Abraham and Claire Zhang, an application scientist at Corning Life Sciences, to learn more.