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Charité researchers simulate coronavirus infection using human lungs and organoids

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SARS-CoV-2 study on mechanisms involved in alveolar infection

Led by Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, a team of Berlin-based researchers have simulated SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lungs, thereby generating key insights into the mechanisms involved.

Using cultured lung tissue samples, the researchers showed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has only limited capacity for directly infecting cells within human alveoli. The majority of viruses which reach the lungs are ingested by macrophages (cells of the innate immune system). Ingestion activates a targeted anti-viral immune response within these immune cells. 

The lung models used, which are based on human cells, impressively demonstrate how animal-free models can be used, especially in research into zoonotic diseases. The research on the lung models was carried out in collaboration with a platform funded by Charité 3R, which facilitates access to human tissues for research purposes for researchers at Charité.

Results from this study have been published in the European Respiratory Journal*.

Read the full press release on the study here.



Department of Infectious Diseases and Respiratory Medicine 

The NUM Academic Research Network


Prof. Dr. Andreas Hocke
Department of Infectious Diseases and Respiratory Medicine 
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 553 477


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