Allison Guy was having a good start to 2021. His health was the best he had ever been. He loved his job and the people he worked with as a liaison manager with a non-profit organization. He got up early in the morning to work on the creation. Things looked “very good,” he says – until he received Covid-19.
Although the initial illness was not pleasant, the consequences were worse. Four weeks later, when Guy was well enough to return to the full-time ministry, he woke up one day very tired. It is accompanied by mental retardation, a component of strong symptoms that are sometimes referred to as Covid-19 “brain fog,” a term that refers to laziness or stupid thinking. “I spent a lot of time in 2021 making decisions such as: Is it the day I take a shower, or am I going to cook myself a cold dinner myself?” Guy remembers. The high notes required for his work were not logical. Having those symbols was, in effect, “hell on earth.”
Most of the Covid-19 unexplained symptoms can go on for weeks, months, years. Now, a new study in the journal Village highlights the natural ways in which Covid-19 affects the brain. Led by researchers Michelle Monje and Akiko Iwasaki, of Stanford and Yale Universities respectively, scientists have determined that mice with low Covid-19 viruses, the virus disrupts the activity of several brain cells and leaves symptoms of inflammation. He hopes the findings will help explain some of the challenges Covid-19 survivors experience and provide treatment options.
For the past 20 years, Monje, a neuro oncologist, has been trying to understand the neurobiology that causes the symptoms of chemotherapy called “chemo fog.” When Covid-19 was discovered as a virus-causing virus, he became concerned about the potential for this disorder. “As soon as the reports of cognitive impairment began to emerge, it became clear that they were very similar diseases,” he says. “The same symptoms of cognitive impairment, memory, cognitive impairment, dysfunction – seem like a ‘chemo fog’ that people have experienced and that we have been studying.”
In September 2020, Monje contacted Iwasaki, an immunologist. His team had already developed the Covid-19 mouse type, thanks to their Biosafety Level 3 license to work with the virus. The mouse model was developed as a proxy for the individual, and the experiment was performed based on the experience of a person with a small amount of Covid-19. Using a viral vein, the Iwasaki team introduced human ACE2 receptor into trachea cells and mouse lungs. This receptor is the virus entry point that triggers Covid, allowing it to bind to the cell. He then injected a small virus into the nostrils of the mouse to cause infection, control its volume and reproduce so that the virus could only breathe. In mice, the disease subsides within a week, and has not lost weight.
Combined with environmental protection laws and the complexities of international cooperation, the security measures required by the epidemic led to some interesting workplace challenges. Because most of the work related to the virus is to be done in the Iwasaki laboratory, Yale scientists take the opportunity to send overnight samples across the country to the Monje laboratory at Stanford for analysis. Sometimes, they need to try to photograph with a GoPro camera to make sure everyone sees the same. “We helped,” says Monje.