Australian scientists grow human lungs in lab to research Covid-19

Scientists in Australia are hoping to shed new light on ways to fight Covid-19 by growing artificial lungs in a lab.

Researchers at the Geelong Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation have infected lab-grown human lungs with influenza in the hopes of learning more about respiratory diseases.

Researcher Michelle Baker told Australia's Nine News the process allowed them to “potentially fast-track things” when it came to researching diseases like Covid-19.

While the lungs weren’t suitable for vaccine testing, it could screen about 100 antiviral compounds in three months. This number could be scaled up with the use of robotic technologies.

Dr Baker said growing the lungs gave researchers a 3D model to do studies on. She said it was more realistic than traditional tissue culture techniques.

She said when the lungs were infected with influenza viruses, they found the lung tissue “mimics what you would actually see in a normal human lung”.

“The lung is really the first line of defence. So, it’s really important that we understand what goes on in the lung.”

Dr Baker said the lungs also minimised the number of animals needed for testing.

The lungs are grown using donated human cells from the upper respiratory tract.