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  1. Ethical Science News

  2. Jul 7, 2020

New Study Suggests SARS-CoV-2 Can Infect Human Brain Cells

Study in a Sentence: Using the human 3D BrainSphere model derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, researchers were able to infect the model with SARS-CoV-2 and found the expression of ACE2, a key enzyme that the novel coronavirus uses to enter the lungs, suggesting the virus can infect human brain cells. 

Healthy for Humans: Early reports suggest that 36% of patients with COVID-19 show neurological symptoms, most notably loss of sense of smell, but it has been unclear what impact the virus has on human brain cells. Understanding if and how SARS-CoV-2 infects brain cells and what disease or injury it causes is critical in understanding the potential long-term impacts of the virus. Clear answers are necessary to steer treatments and advise public guidance.   

Redefining Research: The findings presented in this study are another key piece in learning how COVID-19 causes infection and leads to symptoms and illness. Using BrainSpheres and other human biology-based models, researchers can adapt the drug development process to tackle this virus with effective therapeutics.    


Bullen, CK, Hogberg HT, Bahadirli-Talbott A, Bishai WR, Hartung, T, Keuthan C, et al. Infectability of human BrainSphere neurons suggests neurotropism of SARS-CoV-2. ALTEX. 2020.

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