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Tackling COVID Complexity

Mouse model demonstrates effects of SARS-CoV-2 on multiple organs

10 January 2021

Tackling COVID Complexity

One of the mysteries surrounding SARS-CoV-2 infections is the wide variety of symptoms and outcomes – from having no signs of disease at all right through to death. Furthermore, while some patients have a short-lived cough and fever, others may have a series of strange symptoms lasting months. To understand more about the varied effects of the virus, scientists have engineered mice to carry the human ACE2 receptor (the virus’s entry point) throughout the cells of their bodies. Sure enough, when infected with SARS-CoV-2, such animals exhibited pathologies in multiple organs, not just the lungs. The damaged and disorganised cells of an infected animal’s heart are shown on the right, for example, with a healthy heart of an uninfected animal shown left. The researchers also found evidence that some virus-induced changes might be long lasting, suggesting the animals could be valuable for understanding and developing ways to treat long-haul COVID.

Written by Ruth Williams

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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