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Growing lung cells


São Paulo–based startup TissueLabs has created a platform that mimics the environment of the pulmonary epithelium—the layer of cells that lines the inside lungs—to allow scientists to study how the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, affects the lungs. Named MatriWell, the platform contains an extracellular matrix comprising a gelatinous compound with proteins and complex sugar molecules that support and assist the growth of cells in a three-dimensional environment. “MatriWell is a cell-culture device created to provide epithelial cells with a microenvironment identical to that found naturally,” explains physician Gabriel Liguori, CEO of TissueLabs (, a company that specializes in technologies for manufacturing organs and tissues in laboratories. There are two alternatives on the market for cultivating these cells, but neither reproduce the lung environment as faithfully.