Scientists are able to create tiny mini-organs no bigger than a lentil from artificially created stem cells and they are injecting them with Covid-19 to study the effects. The news was reported by Science Reporter Lisa Krieger.
“By creating disease in a dish,” Krieger wrote, “the scientists hope to better understand the mysteries of COVID. They’re part of a growing international effort to study how the virus infects and damages cells.”
In her story, Krieger reports that Covid’s impact on the mini-heart was very distressing:
The tiny heart became seriously infected within two to 24 hours — then developed an array of genetic and structural defects.
“What we were seeing was completely abnormal; in my years of looking at cardiomyocytes, I had never seen anything like it before,” according to senior investigator Todd McDevitt.
Typically, muscle fibers called sarcomeres are arranged as long filaments, aligned in the same direction. It’s their job to control the coordinated cellular contraction of a heartbeat. But the sick sarcomeres were diced into small fragments, like sliced bread. According to Conklin, this makes it impossible for them to beat properly.
There were other signs of trauma. Cells released cytokines, a chemical distress signal. DNA was missing. Eventually, they succumbed.