Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus


RESEARCHERS at MIT; the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; along with colleagues from around the world have identified specific types of cells that appear to be targets of the coronavirus that is causing the Covid-19 pandemic.
Using existing data on the RNA found in different types of cells, the researchers were able to search for cells that express the two proteins that help the SARS-CoV-2 virus enter human cells. They found subsets of cells in the lung, the nasal passages, and the intestine that express RNA for both of these proteins much more than other cells.
The researchers hope that their findings will help guide scientists who are working on developing new drug treatments or testing existing drugs that could be repurposed for treating Covid-19.
“Our goal is to get information out to the community and to share data as soon as is humanly possible, so that we can help accelerate ongoing efforts in the scientific and medical communities,” says Alex K. Shalek, the Pfizer-Laubach Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry, a core member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), an extramural member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, an associate member of the Ragon Institute, and an institute member at the Broad Institute.
Shalek and Jose Ordovas-Montanes, a former MIT postdoc who now runs his own lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, are the senior authors of the study, which appears today in Cell.
PAPER TOWELS BETTER AT REMOVING VIRUSES THAN JET DRYERS: Hand washing is a vital tool in the fight against Covid-19. Scientists have demonstrated that a good hand washing regimen can significantly slow the progress of an outbreak.
However, there is more than one way to clean your hands, and scientists are keen to understand which method is best. A group of researchers recently put hand drying under the microscope.
After washing one’s hands, there may still be residual pathogens on the skin. The researchers wanted to understand which method of drying the hands removed these residual viruses most efficiently and prevented people from transferring them to surfaces.
Hand drying is an essential part of hand washing. Microbes survive better in moisture, and so any that remain attached during washing are more likely to spread to surfaces if people do not dry their hands correctly.