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Penn State receives $1.6 million grant to check the hyperlink between COVID-19 and cognitive decline



As populations across the globe age, dementia -; usually attributable to Alzheimer’s illness and associated problems -; is a rising well being problem for older adults worldwide. Though it could not appear to be COVID-19 has a lot in widespread with these problems, Penn State Faculty of Medication researchers say that these illnesses could also be linked to one another.

A $1.6 million grant from the Nationwide Institute of Neurological Issues and Stroke will assist analysis into whether or not COVID-19 contributes to the event of cognitive decline that could be a part of the chain of occasions resulting in dementia.

Epidemiologists on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention estimate that just below one third of all COVID-19 circumstances have occurred in people aged 50 years and older. This similar group is also at elevated threat for both having or creating a neurodegenerative illness. COVID-19 sufferers usually report neurological signs like reminiscence points, “mind fog,” and lack of scent and style -; with some signs lasting months after prognosis. Some analysis additionally means that these sufferers are at larger threat of being identified with dementia following their acute an infection. These and different studies have led to scientific hypothesis that COVID-19 infections could also be contributing to untimely cognitive decline, mentioned the researchers.

To review whether or not there’s a connection between COVID-19 an infection and neurocognitive decline, Dr. Xuemei Huang, distinguished professor of neurology, pharmacology, neurosurgery, radiology and kinesiology on the Faculty of Medication and chief of the Division of Motion Issues at Penn State Well being Milton S. Hershey Medical Middle, will lead a multidisciplinary workforce to assemble extra info and organic samples from members of their previous and ongoing research. The examine will leverage the sources from a multiyear, $3.8 million venture that goals to determine organic indicators (biomarkers) of Parkinson’s illness and associated problems by way of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and molecules in organic samples together with blood, pores and skin and cerebral spinal fluid.

“Now we have a novel alternative to check whether or not COVID-19 an infection contributes to the development of neurodegenerative illnesses,” mentioned Huang, who additionally directs the Translational Mind Analysis Middle. “Parkinson’s illness and associated problems usually result in dementia on the finish, and we hope to achieve a greater understanding of whether or not COVID-19 an infection impacts the method of neurocognitive decline in our analysis members.”

In the identical method that lack of scent has signaled COVID-19 an infection for some people, some scientists theorize that lack of scent additionally alerts the start of neurodegenerative processes that result in each Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s illnesses. This will likely come from an individual’s continued publicity to viruses and environmental toxicants that enter by way of the olfactory system (nostril and nasal passages) -; an idea often called the olfactory vector speculation of neurodegenerative illness. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is one instance of a virus that enters the physique by way of the olfactory system.

The analysis workforce will accumulate details about COVID-19 an infection historical past, vaccination standing, ongoing environmental toxin publicity, medical historical past and different life-style elements from greater than 500 members of their previous and ongoing analysis research -; some with Parkinson’s illness and associated problems and a few who’re wholesome. Huang’s workforce has information from these members that had been collected earlier than the present pandemic. The workforce will use MRI mind scans to determine attainable modifications in mind anatomy related to those who happen in Parkinson’s illness, and likewise search for blood markers that happen in neurodegeneration.

We’re nonetheless studying in regards to the long-term results of the pandemic and the results on those that turned in poor health. This analysis will improve our understanding of whether or not or not COVID-19 an infection contributes to the event or development of neurodegenerative illnesses.”


Xuemei Huang, distinguished professor of neurology, pharmacology, neurosurgery, radiology and kinesiology, Faculty of Medication and chief of the Division of Motion Issues, Penn State Well being Milton S. Hershey Medical Middle

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