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GE researchers begin in-depth study to understand Covid-19 impact on lungs

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Bioscience researchers at GE Research have begun an in-depth study to better understand the impact of the Covid-19 virus on the lungs.

The study aims to identify the types of lung cells targeted by the virus and the resulting reaction due to the infection.

In some of the most severe Covid-19 cases, lung tissue is destroyed because of virus attacks to cells in the lungs, which makes breathing very difficult for the patients. Such complications lead to patients being put on ventilators, often resulting in death.

New insights from the study could yield better treatments and therapies, thereby improving patient outcomes.

GE Research has collaborated with the University of Rochester Medical Center Lung Biology and Disease Program led by Gloria Pryhuber.

The project is being supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its Human Biomolecular Atlas Program (HuBMAP) and Lung Molecular Atlas Program (LungMAP).

During the next six months, the GE Research team will conduct a spatial cell analysis on the samples taken from dead patients who were having acute, progressive or resolved Covid-19 infections.

The study aims to understand the immune and lung cell responses to the infection, and works towards identifying the types of proteins expressed by the cells that promote infection or recovery.

GE Research project’s principal investigator Fiona Ginty said: “We believe the type of spatial cell analysis could yield new information in our understanding of the body’s response to the COVID-19 virus, including the immune response, and why the destruction of lung tissue occurs.

“The sooner we can isolate why it’s happening; the sooner new and more effective therapies can be developed that enable more patients to make a full recovery.”

As an open and global platform HuBMAP aims to map an estimated 37 trillion cells in the human body and organs to improve the understanding of how diseases occur and ageing processes take place. It is being led and funded by NIH.

LungMAP is a project focused specifically to identify and map young and still developing lung cells to learn how to promote healthy lung function throughout life, starting very early after birth. The project is being funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).