Research shows effects of Covid on gut health

Service Engineering

Researchers in the United States have used a new Intestine Chip to look at the impacts of Covid 19 on gut health. They have also tested the effects of a range of drugs in the intestinal track to see how they interact with Covid 19.

A strain of Coronavirus (NL63) was placed in the intestine chip. This meant that researchers could replicate typical qualities and features of gut infections. 60% of people with Covid experience gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhoea. Researchers are still unaware of how the virus impacts the gut, and it is immensely hard to study.

“remdesivir (already commonly used in Covid treatments harmed the intestinal tissue“

The intestine chip used in the research was produced at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The chip consists of a transparent, malleable compound with a one side having cells from human blood vessels, and the second with cells from human intestinal lining. In the middle of these two is a permeable membrane which copies the concept of digestion, with the chip’s tissues continually contracting in waves.

Wyss Institute scientists collaborated with people from MIT and Boston hospitals to observe how the gut is impacted by Covid using the Chip. They discovered that a drug called nafamostat minimised the infection while remdesivir (already commonly used in Covid treatments) did not have the same effect. Instead of having a positive reduction on infection, it harmed the intestinal tissue.

Girija Goyal, senior research scientist at the Wyss Institute, said “We were surprised that remdesivir displayed such clear toxicity to the vascular tissue in the Intestine Chip. GI symptoms have been previously reported in clinical trials of remdesivir, and this model now gives us a window into the underlying causes of those symptoms. It could also help us better understand the efficacy and toxicity of other similar drugs.”

Senior author and Wyss Founding Director, Don Ingber, said “This study demonstrates that we can explore complex interactions between cells, pathogens, and drugs in the human intestine using our Intestine Chip as a preclinical model. We hope it proves useful in the ongoing effort to better understand the effects of SARS-CoV-2 and to identify drugs that could be used to combat future viral pandemics.”

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