The myriad effects of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus are being discovered in real time as the disease spreads around the world. What was originally thought to just be a simple respiratory disease is being found to do other stuff all over the body, including the circulatory system and even the nervous system. Case in point: a new study finding the disease is creating little “brain balls” of neurons for some unknown reason.
Neurological symptoms have been noted in coronavirus patients, with up to a third of symptomatic patients reporting dizziness as an effect of the disease. Because the brain is one of the hardest things to understand, the exact mechanism causing that is still a mystery. When the COVID-19 virus reaches the brain, it appears to kickstart its replication speed massively, creating these brain balls of self-connected neurons to expand its presence tenfold in just three days.
The team from Johns Hopkins University added virus cells to “mini-brains” grown from brain cells in a petri dish. They found that the virus rapidly multiplied in the medium, creating spheres of cells. They’re still not sure whether these growths are directly responsible for the neurological symptoms of COVID-19 or whether they arise from some other damage to the body, but this discovery is promising.
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