Brain damageLab-Grown ‘Mini-Brains’ Suggest COVID-19 Virus Can Infect Human Brain Cells

Published 30 June 2020

A multidisciplinary team from two Johns Hopkins University institutions, including neurotoxicologists and virologists from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and infectious disease specialists from the School of Medicine, has found that organoids (tiny tissue cultures that simulate whole organs) made from human cells (known as “mini-brains”) can be infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The results were published online today, June 26, in the journal ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation. Johns Hopkins notes that Early reports from Wuhan, China, have suggested that 36% of COVID-19 patients show neurological symptoms, but until now it was not clear whether the virus infects human brain cells. The Johns Hopkins researchers have now demonstrated that certain human neurons express a receptor, ACE2, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses for entering the lungs — and possibly the brain.