New York, Aug 10 (IANS) A team of US physicians has presented the first known case of a young, healthy adult who after being infected with Covid-19 developed brain inflammation, offering new insights into potential neurological effects post the infectious disease.Although Covid-19 is primarily treated as a respiratory disease, patients often experience neurological problems, such as headaches, anxiety, depression and cognitive issues, which can persist long after other symptoms have resolved.Some research has shown blood vessel damage and inflammation referred to as vasculitis in Covid-19 patients' brains and central nervous system (CNS). Most cases of CNS vasculitis have been associated with elderly patients with severe Covid-19.In the journal Neurology: Neuroimmunology and Neuroinflammation, a multidisciplinary team of physicians at University of California San Diego School of Medicine reported the case of a 26-year-old woman who was diagnosed with Covid-19 four days after an airplane flight in mid-March 2020.Her symptoms were mild, but progressed two to three weeks later to difficulty moving her left foot and weakness on the left side of her body. She had no headaches and had experienced no change in her mental status or cognition.Magnetic resonance imaging, however, revealed multiple lesions in the right frontoparietal region of the brain, which is involved in motor control and sensation of the left side of the body. A biopsy revealed CNS lymphocytic vasculitis -- inflammation or swelling of blood vessels in the brain and spine."This patient was the first confirmed case of Covid-19 CNS vasculitis, confirmed by biopsy, in a young healthy patient with otherwise mild Covid-19 infection," said Jennifer Graves, a neurologist at UC San Diego Health."Her case tells researchers and clinicians to consider these serious potential brain complications even in young patients and those with minor initial Covid-19 infections," she added.The woman underwent a series of corticosteroid-based treatments, began a long-term immunosuppressive medication, and, after six months, the lesions had substantially decreased and no new lesions had formed. She is still under treatment with immunosuppressive medications, the researchers said.--IANSrvt/dpb
New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) An Indian scientist has developed human-based models to study neuron development and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism which can help design treatment strategies for such brain disorders.Yogita K. Adlakha, a recipient of INSPIRE Faculty fellowship instituted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has achieved this feat, the DST said on Wednesday.INSPIRE -- that stands for Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research Programme -- is a scheme by the DST for attracting talent towards science.Since decades, animal models have been used to understand brain-related disorders, and the drugs which function in animal models have failed in clinical trials, therefore Adlakha filled this gap by generating human-based stem cell model to understand brain development and dysfunction at the National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Haryana.At present, she works as a scientist at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, NCR Bio-cluster, Faridabad."The dearth of human models has led to a lack of knowledge of the pathophysiology of such disorders, an essential requirement for designing their treatment strategies," the DST said.Yogita filled this gap and developed a human-based model that could help study how brain develops, particularly the neurons, and what goes awry during brain development leading to cognitive decline, impairment in language, and social interaction.Along with her group, she derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from human peripheral blood and differentiated them into neural stem cells (NSCs).Since levels of microRNA-137 are less in neuro-developmental disorders such as ASD and ID, her study demonstrates crucial roles of this miRNA during human NSC fate determination with an elaboration of underlying molecular mechanisms. This study was published in the journal "STEM CELLS" recently."My research using DST INSPIRE fund has definitely contributed to expanding the knowledge of neuron development and neuro-developmental disorders such as autism and the role of small non-coding miRNA in brain-specific stem cells fate," Adlakha added.Along with her research group, she established a protocol from India for the first time by generating and producing iPSCs from human peripheral blood. They have further refined the protocol of differentiation of iPSCs into brain-specific stem cells that is, NSCs.Her group has contributed immensely towards understanding the role of microRNA in the neural stem cell fate, which revealed how certain small non-coding RNAs called microRNA, which do not form protein but regulate expression of other genes, can enhance differentiation of neural stem cells into neurons.Her research has contributed to expanding the knowledge of neuron development and the role of small non-coding miRNA in brain-specific stem cells fate, thereby changing the face of neuroscience and stem cells.--IANSniv/khz
Beijing, Aug 3 (IANS) Scientists in China have devloped the world's first high-resolution, 3D image of a monkey brain, which can one day lead to treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's.A team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, created a detailed map of a complete macaque monkey brain using fluorescent imaging techniques, the Daily Mail reported. The team created a new technique, known as Volumetric Imaging with Synchronous on-the-fly-scan and Readout (VISoR).Using VISoR, they tested the brains of three 10-year-old macaque monkeys. The findings are published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The images turned out massive, taking up more than a petabyte of data -- 1,000 terabytes or about 30 million high-definition movies. As it captured billions of neurons in unprecedented detail, the team turned to artificial intelligence to study the results, the report said. VISoR helped the team to show how nerve cells are organised and connected within the monkey brain at a 'micron resolution'. The human brain comprises nearly a hundred billion nerve cells with delicate and complex connections, and while up to 17 times larger than that of a macaque, it is similar enough for comparisons to be made between the two, researchers claim.Until now, a mouse brain was the largest to be mapped, taking days to create a complete 3D image, but VISoR made it possible to move up to a macaque brain, which is about 200 times larger in volume than that of a mouse, the report said.According to the researchers, VISoR may also help in imaging other tissues and organs, including samples from clinical pathology. The technique may help to understand the fine 3D structure of the brain and body as well as how they change in various disease conditions, they noted."Hopefully, this technology will be further improved for broader and larger scale applications, to make important contributions to the mapping and understanding of primate and eventually the human brain," Duan Shumin, from Zhejiang University in China.--IANSrvt/ksk/
London, July 28 (IANS) Researchers have found that strokes were a common complication experienced by hospitalised adults with severe Covid-19, with higher rates than expected amongst younger people.The study, led by a team at the University of Southampton in the UK, showed that risk factors such as diabetes and high blood pressure, contributed to the risk of stroke, including in younger people.The study, published in the journal Brain Communications, looked into 267 cases of Covid-19 related neurological and psychiatric problems in the UK.Of the 267 cases, strokes were the most frequently reported conditions, affecting nearly half of the patients. Over a quarter of strokes occurred in patients under 60 years old, many of whom had modifiable risk factors that meant they were already at risk of stroke.Other common conditions included delirium, psychiatric events and other evidence of damage to the brain (encephalopathy). More than 10 per cent of patients experienced more than one neurological condition, and these patients were more likely to require intensive care and ventilation."It was striking not only how many different neurological and psychiatric events we observed in this study, but also that some of these conditions occurred together within the same patients. This suggests Covid can affect multiple parts of the nervous system in the same patient," said Dr Amy Ross-Russell, research fellow at the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust."Patients with strokes also had blood vessel blockages or thrombosis elsewhere in the body so this is important for understanding why some strokes occur during Covid-19," Ross-Russell added.The finding suggests that Covid-19 amplifies the risk of stroke, including in younger people. Public health measures could reduce this, including lifestyle measures to avoid developing diabetes and high blood pressure, good control of blood sugar and blood pressure, and avoiding the risk of severe Covid-19 through vaccination and other public health measures.--IANSrvt/dpb
London, July 20 (IANS) A 61-year-old Caucasian man in the UK experienced facial palsy after each dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine, suggesting a strong link between the jab and Bell's palsy, according to the doctors at the National Health Service.
Bell's palsy -- a facial nerve palsy of unknown cause, where muscles on one side of the face become weak or paralysed.
In the journal BMJ Case Reports, the doctors describe the first such case to be reported in the medical literature of two separate unilateral facial nerve palsies, occurring shortly after each dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The man had no previous history of facial nerve palsy, but had a high Body Mass Index, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type-2 diabetes. Both doses of the vaccine were administered to the left arm, reported the doctors.
The first episode of facial nerve palsy developed five hours after administration of the first dose and the second two days after administration of the second dose administered six weeks later.
Investigations at initial presentation to the emergency department were unremarkable, and the patient was diagnosed with Bell's palsy on both occasions, the doctors said.
The patient attended the emergency department after the first episode, unable to close his left eye properly or move the left side of his forehead and was diagnosed with Bell's palsy. Routine bloods and a CT head scan showed nothing of concern and he was discharged with a course of steroids, and the facial nerve palsy completely resolved.
The second episode was a more severe left-sided facial nerve palsy. The symptoms included dribbling, difficulty swallowing and inability to fully close his left eye. He went to the emergency department, where he was again prescribed a course of steroids. He was also referred to the emergency ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) clinic, which continued the steroids and referred him to ophthalmology, the doctors reported.
"We describe the first case of Bell's palsy occurring after each dose of any UK-approved Covid-19 vaccine. Single episodes of unilateral facial nerve palsies have been reported in clinical trials and in subsequent case reports. There has been no evidence, however, of an episode after each dose," said Dr Abigail Burrows, ENT, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guildford, UK.
"We also describe the earliest onset of symptoms from the timing of administration of the vaccine, further suggesting Bell's palsy was associated with the vaccine," she added. However the doctors noted that a causal relationship cannot be established.
The doctors report that his symptoms have greatly improved and the patient is almost back to normal.
Single episodes of unilateral facial nerve palsies were reported in the initial clinical trials of the three major Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK -- Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford/AstraZeneca -- and there have been subsequent case reports.
In Phase-III trials, four cases of Bell's palsy were reported in volunteers who received the Pfizer vaccine compared with none in those who received the placebo vaccine, and three cases were reported in volunteers who received the Moderna vaccine compared with one in the placebo group.
Three cases of facial nerve palsy were also reported in volunteers who received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine during clinical trials, and there were three cases in volunteers who received the placebo vaccine.
New York, July 17 (IANS) A team of researchers has produced a stem cell model that demonstrates a potential route of entry of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, into the human brain.The findings published in the journal Nature Medicine, indicate that one potential route of SARS-CoV-2 into the brain is through the blood vessels, where SARS-CoV-2 can infect pericytes and then SARS-CoV-2 can spread to other types of brain cells."Clinical and epidemiological observations suggest that the brain can become involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection," said senior author Joseph Gleeson from the University of California San Diego."The prospect of Covid-19-induced brain damage has become a primary concern in cases of 'long COVID,' but human neurons in culture are not susceptible to infection. Prior publications suggest that the cells that make the spinal fluid could become infected with SARS-CoV-2, but other routes of entry seemed likely," Gleeson added.The team confirmed that human neural cells are resistant to SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, recent studies hinted that other types of brain cells might serve as a 'Trojan horse.'Pericytes are specialised cells that wrap around blood vessels -- and carry the SARS-CoV-2 receptor.The researchers introduced pericytes into three-dimensional neural cell cultures -- brain organoids -- to create "assembloids" -- a more sophisticated stem cell model of the human body.These assembloids contained many types of brain cells in addition to pericytes, and showed robust infection by SARS-CoV-2.The coronavirus was able to infect the pericytes, which served as localised factories for the production of SARS-CoV-2. These locally produced SARS-CoV-2 could then spread to other cell types, leading to widespread damage.With this improved model system, they found that the supporting cells known as astrocytes were the main target of this secondary infection."Alternatively, the infected pericytes could lead to inflammation of the blood vessels, followed by clotting, stroke or hemorrhages, complications that are observed in many patients with SARS-CoV-2 who are hospitalised in intensive care units," Gleeson noted.--IANSvc/kr
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