Australian scientists using human organs to research COVID-19’s full impact on the body

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In a first for Australia, Melbourne scientists are growing human organs in a bid to map the damage caused by COVID-19. Scientists will track how the virus impacts the body and the long-term effects. 

These researchers are making human organs from scratch in a science lab, then infecting them with COVID-19. 

Scientists are using human-derived stem cells for the organs.  They’ll then watch the deadly coronavirus at work, right before their eyes. 

“We need to understand what happens when the virus gets into the organ in the first place and why the damage occurs. So, you really need to have it in a dish- live,” said Professor Melissa Little.  

Researchers then document how genes and proteins change due to the virus.  

They’ve found COVID-19 does more than just impact the lungs.  

“It damages people’s hearts. It can affect their blood vessels, their brain function and their kidneys to work, and we really don’t understand how that happens,” said Little. 

It’s hoped the data will also help doctors better prescribe a range of medications to their ill patients. 

A one million dollar grant from the state government and another $600 dollars donated by philanthropists will help fund this project and its large team of researchers for a year.  

“It’s startling how a virus, linked to the common cold, can do such incredible damage to so many tissues and we really don’t understand why,” Little said.  

Results will be shared internationally– a global effort to find a cure and better understand the disease gripping the world. 

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