Home Science update: Shock COVID-19 can infect your HEART

update: Shock COVID-19 can infect your HEART

A landmark new has revealed SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind Coronavirus (COVID-19), can cells in a lab dish. This suggests it may be possible for cells in COVID-19 patients to be directly ed by the virus.


The shock discovery was made using muscle cells produced by stem cell technology.

The virus can also quickly divide within the muscle cells

Dr Arun Sharma

Although many COVID-19 patients experience problems, the reasons remain unclear.

Pre-existing cardiac conditions or inflammation and oxygen deprivation resulting from the ion have all been implicated.

But there has until now been only limited evidence the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly s the individual muscle cells of the .

READ MORE: Coronavirus update: The current R number – are people in the UK still at risk

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: The virus behind (COVID-19) can cells (Image: Getty)

: Human stem cell-derived cells ed by SARS-CoV-2 change their gene expression profile (Image: Express)

Dr Arun Sharma, of the Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute and first author of the , said: “We not only uncovered that these stem cell-derived cells are susceptible to ion by novel , but that the virus can also quickly divide within the muscle cells.

“Even more significant, the ed cells showed changes in their ability to beat after 72 hours of ion.”

The also demonstrated human stem cell-derived cells ed by SARS-CoV-2 change their gene expression profile.

This offers further confirmation the cells can be actively ed by the virus and activate innate cellular ‘defence mechanisms’ in an effort to help clear-out the virus.

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: Dr Clive Svendsen at work in his laboratory (Image: Getty)

While these findings are not a perfect replicate of what is happening in the human body, the news may help investigators use stem cell-derived cells as a screening platform to identify new antiviral compounds capable of preventing viral ion of the , according to senior and co-author Dr Clive Svendsen.

He said: “This viral pandemic is predominately defined by respiratory symptoms, but there are also cardiac complications, including arrhythmias, failure and viral myocarditis.”

The director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute and professor of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine added: “While this could be the result of massive inflammation in response to the virus, our data suggest the could also be directly affected by the virus in COVID-19.”

Researchers also found treatment with an ACE2 antibody was able to blunt viral replication on stem cell-derived cells.

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This suggests the ACE2 receptor could be used by SARS-CoV-2 to enter human muscle cells.

Dr Sharma added: “By blocking the ACE2 protein with an antibody, the virus is not as easily able to bind to the ACE2 protein, and thus cannot easily enter the cell.

“This not only helps us understand the mechanisms of how this virus functions, but also suggests therapeutic approaches that could be used as a potential treatment for SARS-CoV-2 ion.”

The used human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), a type of stem cell created in the lab from a person’s blood or skin cells.

: ARS-CoV-2 virus can directly the individual muscle cells of the (Image: Getty)

IPSCs can make any cell type found in the body, each one carrying the DNA of the individual.

Tissue-specific cells created in this way are used for research and for creating and testing potential disease treatments.

Dr Eduardo Marbán, executive director of the Smidt Institute, said: “This work illustrates the power of being able to human tissue in a dish.

“It is plausible that direct ion of cardiac muscle cells may contribute to COVID-related disease.”

The investigators also collaborated with co-corresponding author Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami, an associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

Professor Arumugaswami provided the novel that was added to the cells, and UCLA researcher Gustavo Garcia Jr. contributed essential cell ion experiments.

He said: “This key experimental system could be useful to understand the differences in disease processes of related coronaviral pathogens, SARS and MERS.”

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