Due to the rapid evolution of viruses, including influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), researchers are struggling to match pace in developing antivirals and vaccines as well as in identifying which drugs can be repurposed for new uses. Furthermore, many of the models used to explore virus evolution, vaccine development, and alternative use cases for approved therapeutics involve animals or studies in culture dishes, making it difficult to faithfully model influenza infection and test whether existing drug candidates block infection from respiratory pathogens like SARS-CoV-2. Since these preclinical drug testing models are not based in human biology, the results they produce often fail to accurately depict what the human responses to a disease or therapeutic will be.
Here, we present how a human Airway Lung-Chip can be used to recapitulate influenza virus infection and evolution in vitro as well as to examine existing candidate therapeutics for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2. Studies show that the Lung-Chip can accurately recapitulate influenza viral evolution that occurs through mutation or gene reassortment. These features of the Airway Lung-Chip make it easier for researchers to keep up with continuously changing viral strains, repurpose existing drugs to fight novel diseases, and discover new therapeutics.