I haven’t posted much lately. There is plenty of Covid 19 still out there, but vaccine rates continue to be low. People are tired of vaccines, apparently. Still, it’s a good way to avoid getting sick or severely sick. Unlike other viruses, we can’t predict what will have a consequence of getting infected by Covid 19. Here are a few new brief articles that have to do with advance on treating it and the long-term consequences of being infected by it.
COVID Moonshot Drove Discovery of Potential COVID-19 Antivirals
Using tools such as crowdsourcing, machine learning, and molecule simulations, an open-science campaign known as COVID Moonshot Consortium drove the formulation of novel potential antiviral treatments for COVID-19, according to results published in Science.
The campaign focused on creating drugs that could target the SARS-CoV-2 main protease and therefore block successful viral replication. More than 200 scientists in both academia and industry from 15 countries submitted their designs to an open platform. These designs then went through steps to identify the compounds that showed the most promise.
In total, this method led to the production of more than 18 000 compound designs, 490 ligand-bound x-ray structures, 10 000 biochemical measurements, and 2400 synthesized compounds, the researchers reported. Moreover, scientists identified the antiviral ensitrelvir, which the US Food and Drug Administration has fast-tracked for approval, based partially on data from the COVID Moonshot campaign, according to the researchers.
Although candidate treatments discovered through the COVID Moonshot might not have an impact on the current pandemic, “the compounds, and the techniques used to identify them, may well affect human health in the future,” the authors of a linked editorial wrote.
Published Online: November 22, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.22934
Smell, Taste Issues After Mild COVID-19 Resolve Over 3 Years
Recovery of sense of smell and taste following a mild SARS-CoV-2 infection continued over 3 years, results from 88 patients in Italy who tested positive for COVID-19 during 2020 suggest.
Fewer people tended to experience issues with taste compared with smell after having COVID-19, and problems with taste tended to recover more quickly than issues with smell. However, both senses did improve over time. After 3 years, the level of taste and smell dysfunction among people with a history of COVID-19 was similar to that of people who had tested negative for the illness.
Patients who experience lasting changes in their senses of taste and smell after COVID-19 “should be reassured that a recovery of olfaction appears to continue over 3 years after initial infection,” the researchers wrote in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.
Published Online: November 22, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.2293
Long COVID Linked With Viral Persistence, Serotonin Decline
Astudy linking viral infection with reduced levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in learning, memory, and mood, has proposed a new potential mechanism underlying post–COVID-19 condition. Also known as long COVID, the condition involves symptoms such as fatigue, memory loss, and cognitive impairment.
Using results from human participants, mice, and organoid cultures, the researchers found that long COVID was tied with a decline in serotonin. A viral reservoir in the gut appeared to trigger inflammation that decreased intestinal absorption of tryptophan, serotonin’s precursor molecule.
Serotonin activity supports vagus nerve function, among other roles. In the study, serotonin loss was associated with lower nerve activity. Dysfunction in the vagus nerve was linked with characteristic long COVID symptoms such as memory loss and hippocampal dysfunction.
“Clinicians treating patients with long COVID have been relying on personal reports from those patients to determine if their symptoms are improving,” Sara Cherry, PhD, an author of the study published in Cell, said in a statement. “Now, our research shows that there are biomarkers we may be able to use to match patients to treatments or clinical trials.”
Published Online: November 1, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.21170