News in Brief: Reports of neurological manifestations of COVID-19 infection growing; Monash breakthrough on migraine trigger; AAN 2021 April meeting to be virtual

22 Feb 2021

Reports of neurological manifestations of COVID-19 infection growing

A growing number of case reports detailing the onset of neurological disease following COVID-19 infection has raised calls for more studies to help define the manifestations caused by the virus.

Researchers from the UK’s National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit say a wide array of neurological manifestations have been documented in 901 patients.

Encephalopathy has been reported for 93 patients in total, including 16 (7%) of 214 hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, and 40 (69%) of 58 patients in intensive care with COVID-19 in France.

Encephalitis has been described in eight patients to date, and Guillain-Barré syndrome in 19 patients with SARS-CoV-2 being detected in the CSF of some patients.

Unexpectedly, say researchers, acute cerebrovascular disease is also emerging as an important complication, with cohort studies reporting stroke in 2–6% of patients hospitalised with COVID-19. So far, 96 patients with stroke have been described, who frequently had vascular events.

While the proportion of infections leading to neurological disease will probably remain small researchers caution that patients might be left with severe neurological after-effects. With so many people infected worldwide, the overall number of neurological patients, and their associated health burden and social and economic costs might be large, they warn.

Read more here.

Monash breakthrough on migraine trigger

Researchers in Melbourne have, for the first time, been able to show the progression of molecular events that lead to migraine – something that, until now, has remained poorly understood.

The breakthrough study, published in Science, was led by a team of researchers from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and the recently established ARC Centre for Cryo-EM of Membrane Proteins (CCeMMP).

Using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) the team has been able to overcome technical hurdles to show how the binding of the vascular regulator, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), to the receptor leads to receptor activation that, in turn, leads to the onset of migraine.

Lead author of the study, Dr Tracy Josephs from MIPS said the discovery shows that the initial binding caused ‘unexpectedly small’ changes in the most prevalent form of the receptor.

“It was the coordinated change in dynamics of the external (CGRP binding) face of the receptor and the intracellular face that was the key, and visualising this would not have been possible by other methods,” he said.

Read more here.

AAN 2021 April meeting to be virtual

Major scientific meetings  continue to be held virtually this year with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) announcing that its 2021 annual meeting will be completely online.

Discussing the latest advances in neurologic research the event will be run from April 17-22 and will cover more than 2,000 poster and platform presentations, late-breaking research, and over 90 educational courses on topics like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

For an early look at this year’s meeting, you can check out the AAN Annual Meeting Program here.

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