At the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the shortage of medical supplies was a problem in many countries. under these circumstances, 3D printer They are used to make masks and respirators. However, in addition to producing highly sought-after products, this technology also has countless applications. For many years, Núria Montserrat, an ICREA researcher at the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), has been using it to print miniature organs, miniature models of human organs. These models are very useful and can be used as experimental models for testing new therapies.
Specifically, Nuria’s laboratory specializes in miniature kidneys. Like the lungs and the heart, miniature organs also contain the portal for the coronavirus to enter our body: ACE2 cell receptor. Therefore, the mini-kidney becomes a good research model for identifying drugs that prevent the action of the virus and prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells to replicate and continue to infect. Speaking of the beginning of covid-19, he said: “I have started to read, download scientific articles, and start to meditate.”
first of all result Research published in the journal cell. “I am heartbroken because I have a lot of worries at home, but in the laboratory, the news is really good.” She is full of sincere attitude towards her conflicts.
“This is the first time I have really seen what we are doing get rewarded in a super short period of time. She said that this is the realization of a dream, but in this period when the dream is so crazy or so difficult, she said, her Four women in the laboratory conducted some experiments.
There is no statistics on her case, which warns that the researcher has published three times fewer articles on covid-19 than her male colleagues. A study Scientifically produce journals in the pandemic BMJ Global Health. He promised the tenacity and perseverance of those who slept three hours a day during the most difficult weeks: “You work hard, it pays off, and we will not stop.”
Organoids for non-drug diseases
Núria Montserrat (Núria Montserrat) participated in the study in mid-February in a Congress Scientific subjects related to bioengineering Miniature kidney. The topic of the conversation in the conference hall organized by the Barcelona headquarters of IBEC and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL, its English abbreviation) is not micro-organs: “Everyone already knows very well what is related to the coronavirus that has not yet effectively reached Europe” . On this day, the World Health Organization (WHO) baptism The name of the disease is covid-19, and a coronavirus pandemic has not yet been declared.
A team of researchers led by Núria Montserrat. / IBEC
In the days after the meeting, scientists organized to find a medicine to treat diseased orphans. IBEC designed a human mini-kidney (the process takes 16 days), the Karolinska Institute was infected with a virus from a Swedish patient who was diagnosed with covid-19 in January, the Institute of Molecular Biology, Vienna, Sweden (Austria) Coordinated this research with the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada) led by geneticists and immunologists Joseph Penninger, Has been engaged in the research of virus-host interaction for 20 years, and participated in the conference held in Barcelona.
At the same time, the number of deaths and infections followed closely behind. Northern ItalyThis has become the first focus of the European pandemic.He said: “I started telling the Italians in the lab whether they wanted to go home, because things looked like they were going to close the border at some point.” “Young students told me it was exaggerated”, but Montserra Has been avoided Social interaction And take public transportation peak hour. When I went on to say that I bought a mask, wine, gloves and food to go home, she admitted: “I am very paranoid.”
Auto-flying mini-kidney full alert
In addition to the scientific challenges, one of the biggest challenges of this research is the shipment of mini-Rinolone from Barcelona to Stockholm. During the most difficult period of the pandemic, there was no direct air connection between Spain and Sweden, so small kidneys had to fly through Germany.
Nuria said: “You put them on the plane and travel alone in a box at room temperature,” Nuria said of the “big problem” at the time, when logistics was more complicated than usual. “For a few very dark weeks, the Mini Kidney stayed at Frankfurt Airport for a day and we were very nervous.”
At home, he did not stop. Nuria lives with their three children. “I would talk to my husband and say:’Oh my God, how did I get into this world now? I was home with three children at a very young age. He summed up this feeling in a very vivid way: “For me, it’s like a kind of eternal postpartum. I remember the initial feeling I was constantly alert and trying to find a solution for everything that was to come.”