SARS-CoV-2 Infection Mapped through Respiratory Tract

June 10, 2020 | Biotechnology

Reading time: 4 minutes

Fresh from GEN, here is a newly released Biotechnology article for you:

SARS-CoV-2 is known to infect cells of the respiratory tract. A deeper understanding of which cells support the infection, and to what extent, could lead to insights into disease progression and severity. Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine sought to understand which cells in the airway the virus infects, and how it gets into the lungs in the patients who develop pneumonia. To this end, they have characterized some of the ways in which SARS-CoV-2 infects the nasal cavity and infects and replicates progressively less well in cells lower down the respiratory tract—including the lungs.

The team’s findings suggest the virus tends to become firmly established first in the nasal cavity, but in some cases the virus is aspirated into the lungs, where it may cause more serious disease, including potentially fatal pneumonia.

The results are published in Cell in the paper, “SARS-CoV-2 Reverse Genetics Reveals a Variable Infection Gradient in the Respiratory Tract.”

“If the nose is the dominant initial site from which lung infections are seeded, then the widespread use of masks to protect the nasal passages, as well as any therapeutic strategies that reduce virus in the nose, such as nasal irrigation or antiviral nasal sprays, could be beneficial,” said study co-senior author Richard Boucher, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Marsico Lung Institute at the UNC School of Medicine.

“This is a landmark study that reveals new and unexpected insights into the mechanisms that regulate disease progression and severity following SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Ralph Baric, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. “In addition,” Baric continued, “we describe a new reverse genetic... Find the full article at the GEN Blog.

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