Organoids for antiviral testing

For a long time, human virus research relied on results generated from experiments using immortalized cell lines and animal models. For new (antiviral) drugs to become available to the market, these drugs should have first been tested on animals. However, in late December 2022, President Joe Biden signed an amendment law that allows the use of human organoids and other animal-free alternatives to test new drugs to become available on the market.


An ‘organoid’ is a miniature and simplified version of a human organ. Human organoids contain the cellular make-up of its donor, meaning that it carries the personal characteristics of the donor such as genes, gender and age. At OrganoVIR Labs, our researchers are using human organoids the ideal model to study viral infections and how human organs react to new antiviral drugs.


In an editorial article, our coordinator Dasja Pajkrt along with Joana Rocha-Pereira (KU Leuven) and Veronica Krenn (Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca) highlighted the use of human gut and respiratory tract organoid technology to study human viral infections. By highlighting four articles, they demonstrated how new important conclusions can be drawn based on using human organoids for virus and antiviral research.


Within OrganoVIR Labs, our researchers developed a human 2D gut epithelial system which was used to study the mechanisms of human parechoviruses (PeV-A). The article also mentioned research that used stem cell-derived organoid model to study respiratory viral infections and another research that used pseudostratified mucociliated mucosal barrier model to identify differentiation stage-specific biomarkers.


In the last years, the world has seen significant growth in the use of human organoids in research for studies of human viral pathogenesis and antiviral testing. Together, the four articles showed the potential of human derived organoid technology for virus research and antiviral research. To read the full editorial article, click below.