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Researchers at The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have uncovered a pathway that coronavirus appears to use to hijack and exit cells as it spreads through the body.

In cell studies, the researchers revealed that the coronavirus can exit infected cells through the lysosome. Normally the lysosome destroys viruses and other pathogens before they leave the cells; however, the researchers found that the coronavirus deactivates the lysosome’s disease-fighting machinery, allowing it to freely spread throughout the body.

NIH Lysosome Image
Nihal Altan-Bonnet, Ph.D., is chief of the Laboratory of Host-Pathogen Dynamics at the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). “These coronaviruses are very sneaky,” Altan-Bonnet said. “They’re using these lysosomes to get out, but they’re also disrupting the lysosome so it can’t do its job or function.” Targeting cells’ lysosomes could lead to a new antiviral strategy to fight COVID-19.

View our recent webinar on Lysosome Function, Cathepsin Activity, and Cell Viability Techniques. Watch here: ICT Webinars

Read the full NIH article here
Reference: β-Coronaviruses use lysosomes for egress instead of the biosynthetic secretory pathway DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2020.10.039