Among the mysteries surrounding novel coronavirus is its ability to turn deadly in some patients but not others. In a percentage of those fatal cases, it’s the virus’ effect on the heart or the lungs that make it a killer. Now, researchers with San Francisco’s Gladstone Institutes are struggling to learn why. “Ideally we’d have a human heart and human lung tissue in front of us to study what that virus is doing. We obviously can’t take biopsies from people’s lungs or heart to do that,” says Deepak Srivastava, M.D.. Instead, Srivastava and his team are using a Nobel Prize-winning technology they helped pioneer to search for an answer. It involves turning a patients’ skin cells into stem cells, which can differentiate into almost any kind of cell in the human body. “We can actually take skin cells and turn them into stem cells that can become human lung and human heart tissue,” he explains.

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Citations: Lim, Dion; Didion, Tim (April 10th, 2020). Coronavirus Treatment: San Francisco scientists’ stem cell research could help in COVID-19 fight. ABC 7 News. Retrieved April 10th, 2020.

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