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Intestine organoid grown in lab to study why bats live with viruses but dont get sick

Date: 29.12.2021 

Experiments attempting to explain why bats can be infected with many viruses at a time without succumbing to diseases such as COVID-19 – knowledge that could help us to reduce the threat to humans of infectious disease – have struggled until now with the fact that live wild bats make poor research subjects.

Kredit: Tsutomu Omatsu, TUAT.To overcome this obstacle, for the first time researchers have grown rousette bat "organoids," which reproduce intestines in vitro.

Bats are the natural source of a raft of human pathogens (or, in epidemiological jargon, the "reservoir" – the host in which a pathogen survives without causing disease). These include the viruses that cause a great many illnesses such as Ebola, Marburg, Nipah, Hendra, SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. In fact, a single bat can host these viruses without getting sick.

Why bats can live with so many viruses without themselves falling ill remains one of the great mysteries of virology and its neighboring disciplines. And solving this mystery has been made all the more urgent by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet bats are wild animals, not domesticated experimental animal subjects. It is much more dif?cult to conduct reproducible investigations on bats than on more common experimental animals such as mice or pigs.

So the researchers developed a bat organoid that could be used for such experimentation. In this case, they grew organoids from cells from the intestine of a flying fox, the species Rousettus leschenaultia within the wider genus of Rousettus, also known as Rousette bats.





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