New research explores the impacts of COVID-19
We thought we would take a step away from our usual regulatory news topics to discuss some exciting new research taking place here in Canada. Nexreg Compliance is based in London Ontario, which also happens to be the home of Western University (Western), one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities. Some promising new studies have been initiated at Western which aim to boost understanding of the impacts of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Brain Study
A new study will explore the lasting impacts of COVID-19 by looking at the virus’s direct and indirect effects on the brain. The goal is to provide answers for healthcare professionals on the front lines and improve care for patients affected by COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Brain Study is a collaboration between Western, the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Researchers are looking to recruit 50 000 individuals that have tested positive for the virus to learn more about the potential neurological effects and longer-term impacts of the disease.
Some questions researchers are hoping to shed light on pertain to whether COVID-19 infection results in significant cognitive impairment, and if there are interactions with sex, age, and medical risk factors that cause an even greater impact. This is of interest because the pandemic has caused an unprecedented spike in ICU demand, and ICU stays have previously been shown to result in cognitive impairment at the time of discharge and even months or years later.
Researchers profile the body’s immune system response to COVID-19
One of the challenges of COVID-19 is that the body mounts an overreactive immune response as the virus replicates. This immune response releases inflammatory molecules to fight the virus, which simultaneously destroy healthy cells and organs. Researchers in London Ontario were the first to profile the body’s immune system response to COVID-19 to target this harmful inflammation.
The research team from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Lawson Health Research Institute studied blood samples from critically ill patients. They were able to identify a unique pattern of six molecules that are potential therapeutic targets for treatment of the virus. One of the molecules, heat shock protein 70, measured in blood early during the illness and was strongly associated with an increased risk of death.
Now that the body’s immune response to COVID-19 is better understood, the next step is to test drugs that block the harmful effects of these inflammatory molecules while still allowing the immune system to fight the virus.