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Study reveals novel coronavirus may infect human intestines

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Researchers were able to isolate SARS-CoV-2 from the stool specimen of a female patient diagnosed with COVID-19, which suggests that intestinal infection may have occurred

The SARS-CoV-2 virus may be capable of infecting the human intestinal tract, in addition to the respiratory system, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine. It was conducted on human and bat organoids miniaturised and simplified versions of the intestine produced in the laboratory. The study also included clinical isolation of the virus from a human stool sample, said the researchers from the University of Hong Kong.

Genetic analysis has revealed that SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to SARS-related coronaviruses found in horseshoe bats. However, the absence of laboratory models that can be used to study bat viruses limits study in this area, according to the researchers. So, bat organoids could potentially help in elucidating the origins of SARS-CoV-2, informed the researchers.

The findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2 can infect bat intestinal cells, and thus, recapitulate the natural infection in bat intestine. The researchers also investigated whether human intestinal organoids were susceptible to the virus and observed that viral replication took place here too.

They were also able to isolate SARS-CoV-2 from the stool specimen of a female patient diagnosed with COVID-19, which suggests that intestinal infection may have occurred. The researchers note that the precise route by which human intestinal infection may take place is unclear, but that this could represent an additional route of viral transmission.

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