Although COVID-19 vaccines were developed with lightning speed, there’s still a lot we don’t know about treating the virus. A recent GEN article discussed a 3D lung-on-a-chip that’s helping scientists to better understand respiratory afflictions including COVID-19. The lung-on-a-chip is a model of the distal lung and alveolar structures, and allows the team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to see how various therapies impact the replication of the virus.
The theoretical lung model was developed to mirror the biological characteristics of the human distal lung. Older 2D models were based on flat surfaces made with plastic materials, and didn’t account for the curvature of the alveoli or have the consistency of real human tissue. The new 3D model was created with materials more representative of true human alveolar tissue and stimulated cell growth within the three-dimensional spaces. The team is testing the efficacy of therapies such as remdesivir, but also hopes to study how COVID-19 variants travel through airways and impact pulmonary function.