Researchers from the Blizard Institute will use miniaturised living systems with human cells, known as organ-chips, donated by Emulate, Inc to investigate how Covid-19 affects the lungs.
Coronavirus on lungs. Credit: feellife/iStock.com
The donation was awarded to Professor Daniel Pennington and Dr Neil McCarthy as part of the Organs-on-Chips against COVID-19 initiative run by the UK Organ-on-a-chip Technologies Network.
Through this research project the scientists hope to improve understanding of how Covid-19 affects the lungs and identify new ways to treat patients with severe disease.
Organs-on-Chips contain tiny hollow channels lined by living human cells that recreate the physical and mechanical environment experienced by cells within the human body.
The research team will use Emulate’s new Lung-Chips models to compare the effects of plasma from severe Covid-19 patients and healthy controls on human lung cells. Professor Pennington, said: “As we continue to learn more about Covid-19, it’s becoming clear that the virus doesn’t only damage the lungs. Recent studies have shown that it may also affect blood vessels suggesting that there is an important vascular component to this disease.”
“We hope to use this donation from Emulate, Inc to investigate how Covid-19 disrupts the interactions between endothelial cells that cover the surface of blood vessels and epithelial cells lining the lungs. Our findings could help to uncover new targets for potential therapeutic interventions against the disease.”
The new project will build on the existing relationship between Queen Mary and Emulate, Inc through the Queen Mary + Emulate Organs-on-Chips Centre.
The centre was established in January 2020 and provides access to Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips technology enabling researchers to develop organ models of their design for use in a wide variety of experiments and drug development programmes.
The Centre is located in newly refurbished bioengineering labs within Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science and includes dedicated Centre staff and an extensive suite of Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips testing platforms.