Researchers from the University of Liverpool and King’s College London have received a £2.3 million fund from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to investigate the neurological impacts of COVID-19
800 COVID patients who were admitted to hospital and suffered from neurological or neuropsychiatric complications will be investigated under The COVID-19 Clinical Neuroscience Study (COVID-CNS) to help scientists develop strategies to treat these problems.
The project is being led by the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections at the University of Liverpool alongside King’s College London and will be working in collaboration with the ISARIC Coronavirus Clinical Characterisation Consortium and the Post-HOSPitalisation COVID-19 study.
Project co-lead, Dr Benedict Michael, Senior Clinician Scientist Fellow at the University of Liverpool and Consultant Neurologist at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “COVID-19 patients frequently suffer brain complications during the infection and are left with brain injuries which can have lifelong consequences. Similar problems have been seen in previous pandemics, including Spanish influenza over 100 years ago, but how and why this occurs is remain poorly understood.
“Without understanding how the virus causes these problems, we are not able to know which existing medications to use or to develop new medications to treat these neurological effects. We’re going to look at cases in detail, exploring clinical data, and laboratory and imaging markers of brain inflammation and injury.”
Project co-lead Professor Gerome Breen, Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, said: “These brain complications of severe COVID-19 infection could cause long terms problems for patients and their families. We want to compare patients with these complications to similarly ill hospitalised patients who did not have these problems. We will monitor their outcomes and integrate social and environmental risk factors into our analyses alongside all the biology information we will measure.
“This project brings together scientists and clinicians in all four UK nations, across neurology, psychiatry, genetics, epidemiology and immunology. By working together, we aim to rapidly improve our understanding and design better treatments.”