New NIH COVID-19 research includes insights on coronavirus’ effect on patients’ brains; blood thinner trial enrollment paused

New research conducted by the National Institutes of Health is shedding light on how COVID-19 affects patients’ brains.

Researchers reported evidence of damage caused by thinning and leaky brain blood vessels in tissue samples from patients who died shortly after contracting COVID-19. However, there were no signs of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue samples, suggesting the damage was not caused by a direct viral attack on the brain.

NIH Dec. 22 also announced it paused enrollment for one group of patients participating in three clinical trial platforms working in conjunction with one another to test the effects of full doses of anticoagulants in COVID-19 patients.

Researchers determined that among critically ill COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care unit support, therapeutic anticoagulation drugs did not reduce the need for organ support. The trials will continue enrollment of moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

Several other NIH-led studies are also providing new insights in the following areas:

  • the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 infection transmission between third-trimester pregnant women and newborns;
  • a series of investigations into risk factors for COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome in children; and
  • support for new, non-traditional approaches and reimagined uses of existing tools to address gaps in COVID-19 testing and surveillance.