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(Reuters) – A roundup of some of the recent clinical research on the novel coronavirus and attempts to classify therapies and vaccines for the virus-induced disease COVID-19 is presented below.

There is no need for the current coronavirus to specifically invade brain tissue to damage it, a new study suggests. The brains of 19 patients who died from COVID-19 were studied by researchers, focusing on tissues from regions known to be particularly sensitive to the virus: the olfactory bulb that regulates the sense of smell and the brainstem that controls breathing and heart rate.

“We were completely surprised,” said coauthor Dr. Avindra Nath of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in a statement. 

The damage his team saw is usually associated with strokes and neuroinflammatory diseases, he said. “So far, our results suggest that the damage … may not have been caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus directly infecting the brain,” Dr. Nath said.

“In the future, we plan to study how COVID-19 harms the brain’s blood vessels and whether that produces some of the short- and long-term symptoms we see in patients.” (bit.ly/38jB7K4)

According to a new report, pandemic stress might cause people to lose their hair. By mid-summer, in a racially diverse neighborhood in New York City, rates of a hair shedding disease called telogen effluvium (TE) had risen by more than 400 percent, researchers report in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The frequency of TE cases was 0.4 percent from November 2019 through February 2020 . 

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It is unclear if the increase in cases of TE is more closely related to the physiological toll of infection or extreme emotional stress,” said coauthor Dr. Shoshana Marmon of Coney Island Hospital. The increase was due primarily to TE in persons of color, particularly in the Hispanic community, “in line with the disproportionately high mortality rate of this subset of the population due to COVID-19 in NYC,” the authors said. 

 

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