|Project Initiator: KU Leuven University||Year(s) of support: 2020|
|Support provided: Contribution to the salaries of an experienced technician and a post-doc, production of a “lung-on-a-chip” model, consumable materials and reagents||Amount provided: 111,000 euros|
|Location: Leuven, Belgium||
Air Liquide Monitoring manager:
Matthieu Chalopin, Clinical and Pre-clinical Trial Coordinator, Air Liquide Santé International
Studies by various research teams have found that when the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters the epithelial cells that line the inside of the lung, the endothelial cells that cover blood vessels stop working properly. This endothelial dysfunction is suspected of playing a major role in the morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19. Despite this, these cellular mechanisms are not well understood at this time.
An innovator in the field of molecular virology and gene therapy, Dr. Frauke Christ and her team plus involved contributors (KU Leuven & UZ Leuven) are developing an innovative in vitro “lung-on chip” model that closely resembles lung anatomy and physiology of the small airways. With this chip, the interactions between the endothelial cells, epithelial cells and extracellular components surrounding these structures in the human respiratory tract will be studied during a viral infection like SARS-CoV-2.
The aim is to better understand the causes of inflammation associated with COVID-19, including risk factors such as obesitas and diabetes, providing a basis for future new treatment development.
This model could be used to study the long-term effects on the lungs of patients with severe cases of COVID-19.