Thursday, July 9, 2020

COVID-19 Causing Brain Complications and Neurological Problems Globally



Cases of brain complications linked to COVID-19 are occurring across the globe, a new review by University of Liverpool researchers has shown.

Published in The Lancet Neurology, the study found that strokes, delirium and other neurological complications are reported from most countries where there have been large outbreaks of the disease.

COVID-19 has been associated mostly with problems like difficulty breathing, fever and cough. However, as the pandemic has continued, it has become increasingly clear that other problems can occur in patients. These include confusion, stroke, inflammation of the brain, spinal cord, and other kinds of nerve disease.

Credit: University of Liverpool

A recent Liverpool-led study of COVID-19 patients hospitalised in the UK found a range of neurological and psychiatric complications that may be linked to the disease.

To get a sense of the wider picture, the researchers brought together and analysed findings from COVID-19 studies across the globe that reported on neurological complications. The review, which included studies from China, Italy and the USA among others, found almost 1000 patients with COVID-19-associated brain, spinal cord and nerve disease.

Research Fellow, Dr Suzannah Lant, who was working on the project, said: "Whilst these complications are relatively uncommon, the huge numbers of COVID-19 cases globally mean the overall number of patients with neurological problems is likely to be quite large."

One of the complications found to be linked to COVID-19 is encephalitis, which is inflammation and swelling of the brain.

Dr Ava Easton, CEO of the Encephalitis Society, and co-author on the paper said: "It is really important that doctors around the world recognise that COVID-19 can cause encephalitis and other brain problems, which often have potentially devastating, life-changing consequences for patients."

Professor Tom Solomon, senior author on the paper and Director of the Global COVID-Neuro Network, added: "Although such patients are being seen everywhere the virus occurs, many of the reports are lacking in detail. We are currently pooling data from individual patients all around the world, so that we can get a more complete picture. Doctors who would like to contribute patients to this analysis can contact us via the Global COVID-Neuro Network website."

For more information about the Global COVID-Neuro Network please visit https://braininfectionsglobal.tghn.org/covid-neuro-network/



Contacts and sources:
Nicola FrostUniversity of Liverpool


Publication: Neurological associations of COVID-19 Mark A Ellul, Laura Benjamin, Bhagteshwar Singh, Suzannah Lant, Benedict Daniel Michael, Ava Easton, Rachel Kneen, Sylviane Defres, Jim Sejvar, Tom Solomon http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30221-0




What an Alaskan Raptor's Fossil Jaw Tells Us about Dinosaur Migration




This fossil is a clue to the history of how dinosaurs dispersed between continents, showing some dinosaurs likely nested in the far north


Fossil jawbone from Alaska is a rare case of a juvenile Arctic dromaeosaurid dinosaur 
Credit: Andrey Atuchin

A small piece of fossil jawbone from Alaska represents a rare example of juvenile dromaeosaurid dinosaur remains from the Arctic, according to a study published July 8, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza of the Imperial College London, UK, and co-authors Anthony R. Fiorillo, Ronald S. Tykoski, Paul J. McCarthy, Peter P. Flaig, and Dori L. Contreras.

Dromaeosaurids are a group of predatory dinosaurs closely related to birds, whose members include well-known species such as Deinonychus and Velociraptor. These dinosaurs lived all over the world, but their bones are often small and delicate and rarely preserve well in the fossil record, complicating efforts to understand the paths they took as they dispersed between continents.

The Prince Creek Formation of northern Alaska preserves the largest collection of polar dinosaur fossils in the world, dating to about 70 million years ago, but the only dromaeosaurid remains found so far have been isolated teeth. The jaw fossil described in this study is a mere 14mm long and preserves only the tip of the lower jaw, but it is the first known non-dental dromaeosaurid fossil from the Arctic. Statistical analysis indicates this bone belongs to a close relative of the North American Saurornitholestes.

Fossil jawbone from Alaska is a rare case of a juvenile Arctic dromaeosaurid dinosaur

Credit: A. Chiarenza


North American dromaeosaurids are thought to trace their origins to Asia, and Alaska would have been a key region for the dispersal of their ancestors. This new fossil is a tantalizing clue toward understanding what kinds of dromaeosaurs inhabited this crucial region. Furthermore, the early developmental stage of the bone suggests this individual was still young and was likely born nearby; in contrast to previous suggestions that this part of Alaska was exclusively a migratory pathway for many dinosaurs, this is strong evidence that some dinosaurs were nesting here. The authors suggest that future findings may allow a more complete understanding of these mysterious Arctic dromaeosaurids.

Chiarenza summarizes: "There are places where dinosaur fossils are so common that a scrap of bone, in most cases, cannot really add anything scientifically informative anymore: this is not the case with this Alaskan specimen. Even with such an incomplete jaw fragment, our team was not only able to work out the evolutionary relationships of this dinosaur, but also to picture something more on the biology of these animals, ultimately gaining more information on this Ancient Arctic ecosystem." 

Fiorillo adds: "Years ago when dinosaurs were first found in the far north, the idea challenged what we think we know about dinosaurs. For some time afterwards, there was a great debate as to whether or not those Arctic dinosaurs migrated or lived in the north year round. All of those arguments were somewhat speculative in nature. This study of a predatory dinosaur jaw from a baby provides the first physical proof that at least some dinosaurs not only lived in the far north, but they thrived there. One might even say, our study shows that the ancient north was a great place to raise a family and now we have to figure out why."

Funding: ARF received funding for this project from the National Science Foundation (OPP 0424594 to Fiorillo) and the National Geographic Society (W221-12 to Fiorillo). ARF received additional funding through the Perot PaleoClub, a private donation. The Perot Paleo Club played no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Contacts and sources:
Alfio Alessandro ChiarenzaPLOS

Publication: The first juvenile dromaeosaurid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from Arctic Alaska.  Chiarenza AA, Fiorillo AR, Tykoski RS, McCarthy PJ, Flaig PP, Contreras DL (2020)  PLoS ONE 15(7): e0235078. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0235078