Internationally renowned company, Newcells Biotech, are using their established expertise in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology to test their existing model of the human lung epithelium as a platform for modelling SARS-CoV-2 infection and anti-viral strategies.
Newcells Biotech have been developing the lung model for over two years and have recently confirmed the model expresses the mRNA for key surface receptor, ACE2, that the SAR-CoV-2 virus uses to access cell. They are currently testing for the presence of the ACE2 protein on the cell surface. The model has been characterised and contains basal epithelia, ciliated and secretory cells (goblet and club cells) organised in a stratified epithelium.
Once expression of ACE2 protein has been confirmed, the model will be challenged with the virus to confirm infection and replication. Newcells is currently working with two BL3 registered laboratories to establish the protocols for the challenge experiments.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Newcells Biotech had been developing a hiPSC (stem cell) derived model of the upper airway for toxicology testing of environmental pollutants and had developed a proprietary method to make the basal cells in large quantities. The model, which model is produced in 24-well TranswellTM insert format making it easy to scale up production and use, has been shown to respond to known airborne particles with cytokine responses and changes in gene expression.
Newcells is rapidly working to demonstrate the utility of the assay to help researchers in the race to find anti-viral approaches to combat the pandemic in the short-term and to use as a platform to study the virus biology.
Newcells Biotech would be interested in collaborating with other organisations and companies.