Our goal is to determine, in multiple infected organs, which cell types are targeted by COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) to improve our understanding of this disease and identify specific cellular targets for therapy.
A central question in understanding SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis is which specific cell types are infected by the virus. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is thought to enter cells via the receptor ACE2 and the co-receptor TMPRSS2. While a number of recent studies have identified and characterized the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in normal human organs, including the lung, liver, intestines, and prostate, no current studies have used patient samples to determine which cells are actually infected by SARS-CoV-2 in infected patients.
We are studying SARS-CoV-2-infected organs from deceased patients to identify the specific cell types targeted by SARS-CoV-2 in the trachea, lung, ileum, colon, liver, and prostate. We are also characterizing the transcriptomes of the infected cell types as well as the surrounding cells in each of these tissues. This multi-tissue systematic approach will provide critical details of the viral pathogenesis in severely infected patients. These studies will also generate a more complete picture of SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis that will inform our development of treatments for this disease.
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