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The University of Southampton

New study to give insight into potential effects of Coronavirus on the brain

Published: 26 May 2020

University of Southampton researchers are co-leading a national study into the effects of Coronavirus on the nervous system.

Doctors across the UK are being asked to report on whether any patients with coronavirus show problems with their brain, nerves, or mental health. The Southampton research team, led by Aravinthan Varatharaj and Ian Galea, from the Southampton Clinical and Experimental Neurology Team, use this data to investigate causality and identify risk factors for neurological involvement during COVID-19.

The study is in collaboration with investigators from the universities of Liverpool, Newcastle, and University College London and builds on Southampton's existing strengths in understanding brain inflammation. It is part of a nationwide surveillance programme organised by the CoroNerve Studies Group, which aims to describe the neurological features of COVID-19.

The Clinical Informatics Research Unit at the University of Southampton has developed the online tool for doctors across the UK to report their cases.

Ian Galea, Associate Professor in Experimental Neurology at the University, said: “The experience of past pandemics, notably influenza H1N1 in 1918 and 2009, suggests that neurological complications may occur. Though the proportion may be small, given the large number of infections the collective burden may be large so there is an urgent need for prospective, nationwide, high-quality data collection to inform management and research.

“This is a collaborative nationwide approach to gathering and analysing important data, working with physicians reporting surveillance data from the bedside through to our teams analysing patterns. Our aim is to identify risk factors for early identification and effective treatment strategies.”

More information on the study can be found here.


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