Vienna’s active ingredient protects mini-organs from coronavirus

Vienna. With the drug APN01 developed by Viennese researchers around the geneticist Josef Penninger, there will be a future treatment option for the coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, as the “Wiener Zeitung” already reported. Now the substance, the recombinantly produced human ACE-2 enzyme, which is promised in Covid 19 therapy, has been successfully tested on mini-organs. With the organoids, the involvement of the blood vessels and kidneys could be reduced, according to the research team. The active ingredient is to be tested in a phase II clinical trial in Vienna shortly. The Institute for Molecular Biotechnology (Imba) in Vienna played a leading role in the development.

Virus load greatly reduced

In the laboratory, the team looked at how an infection of blood vessel and kidney organoids with the new virus developed. The organoids are three-dimensional arrays of cells made in the laboratory from pluripotent stem cells, which are similar in structure to human organs. It was shown that Sars-CoV-2 also directly infected the blood vessel and kidney organoids, the Imba said in a broadcast. It was also able to reproduce in the tissues. This is interesting because severe illnesses can lead to severe inflammation of several organs, multi-organ failure and cardiovascular damage. However, by using hrACE2, the researchers were able to reduce the infection in the organoids. In cell cultures, the viral load was reduced by a factor of 1000 to 5000.

“An organoid is not a patient, but it allows us to study, under controlled conditions, how the virus affects tissue and how to stop it. Now it is time to substantiate the results with those from the clinical studies,” said Penninger.

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