The study of COVID-19 infections had hit a limit because it is difficult to infect mice and there are no available human alveoli in laboratories.
A joint research team led by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology has found a way around this problem by developing the technology for stable and long-term 3D cultivation of human lung tissue in laboratories.
Using the 3D human alveolar model, the researchers can study the disease mechanisms of various respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
When the model was exposed to the COVID-19 virus, the virus spread rapidly within six hours and completed the infection process.
Meanwhile, the activation of the innate immune response of the lung took about three days.
The researchers also found that some of the cells lost their function from the third day and that one virus particle was enough to infect one cell.
"We can do more efficient and faster research by using human alveoli to directly study disease mechanisms and for drug screening."
The study was published in the online version of the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell.
Park Se-young, Arirang News.