HONG KONG, (Xinhua): The novel coronavirus is as virulent as or more virulent than the SARS coronavirus in causing lung damage, a new study by Hong Kong University (HKU) researchers has showed.
The research has recently been published in the internationally published Journal of Virology, according to a statement issued by HKU on Monday.
The researchers used human lung tissues maintained in culture to compare infection with the novel coronavirus (HCoV-EMC), SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and the common cold virus 229E.
They found that the novel coronavirus infects and replicates in human alveolar type I and type II epithelial cells in the lung and it multiplies even faster than the SARS coronavirus, causing severe lung injury.
To explore possible treatment strategies, the research also addressed the pathogenesis of the novel coronavirus. The results demonstrated that the novel coronavirus avoids activating the human lung interferon responses, which are the first-line host defense against viral infection, and allows the virus to continue to replicate and cause damage to the lung.
On the other hand, the virus infection in the lung can be suppressed by interferon treatment, suggesting that this is a treatment option that may be beneficial in treating humans infected with novel coronavirus.
Since April 2012, there have been 17 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 11 of them died from the respiratory disease associated with a newly recognized human betacoronavirus in lineage C (HCoV-EMC) virus. The transmissibility and pathogenesis of the novel coronavirus remains poorly understood.
Editor: Hou Qiang