Deceased COVID-19 Patients Show Hypoxic Injury in the Brain

Human brain
Coronal view of one of the 18 human brains in a study led by Isaac H. Solomon, MD, PhD, a pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

While COVID-19 primarily affects the lungs of those infected, many patients have reported a wide range of unusual neurological symptoms. These include headaches, altered mental status, strokes, seizures and loss of smell. Many researchers have hoped that autopsies could shed light on the unknowns of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

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Attacking GBM: Building a micro RNA Therapy; Testing a Treatment Microdevice

A research team from the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has published its step-by-step “recipe” for combining microRNAs into genetic therapies. The new publication comes on the heels of earlier work that shows promise for a potential glioblastoma (GBM) gene therapy. In sharing their technique, the researchers hope to help others create transgenes that could target virtually any complex molecular pathway in a broad range of tumors and other disorders.
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7T MRI Reveals a Link Between Meningeal and Gray Matter Involvement in MS

7 Tesla MRI findings in multiple sclerosis*

Increased immune system activity at the brain’s surface, or meningeal inflammation, is believed to be important for understanding how relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) — the most common early form of the disease — progresses to more advanced clinical stages. But the most commonly available MRI technology, 3 Tesla (3T), offers a limited view of meningeal inflammation.
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Breaching the Blood-Brain Barrier to Target Glioblastoma

Image adapted with permission from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation

A preliminary trial of focused ultrasound (FUS) to open the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in patients with glioblastoma (GBM) is underway at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and two other sites. One of the study’s first patients, treated by  neurosurgeon Alexandra J. Golby, MD, has shown that the barrier was breached safely and successfully.

The study is a first step toward using non-invasive FUS technology to deliver chemotherapy more effectively to the site of a brain tumor at concentrations higher than occurs with current treatments.
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How We Improved Door-to-Needle Time for Thrombectomy

Using principles of industrial engineering and system dynamics, the stroke care team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Neurosurgery improved door-to-needle time for thrombectomy. Starting with a thorough assessment of workflow, the team replaced sequential processes with parallel ones, improved communication and transparency across the many disciplines involved, and increased awareness of how each role contributed to patient care. The result: Improved efficiency shortened the door-to-needle time that is a hallmark of quality in stroke care.
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Moving Toward a Tau Plasma Biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease

Image: Neurofibrillary tangles (dark neurons) in an AD brain, from which tau fragments may derive

Progress in creating and evaluating a tau biomarker test at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is spurring rapid movement toward a blood-based screen to diagnose or predict risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) perhaps without the need for spinal fluid or imaging.
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Neuropsychiatry Focuses on Bringing Two Fields Together

It’s not uncommon for people who have neurological disorders to experience behavioral and emotional symptoms. The field of neuropsychiatry is dedicated to addressing this issue and bringing a neurobiological understanding to the field of psychiatry.

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Predicting Health Outcomes in Older Patients with Hematologic Cancers

Gait speed and grip strength are objective measures of physical health that have been shown to predict important health outcomes in older adults such as functional decline, acute care use and death. According to a recent study, these measures are particularly important to assess in older patients with hematologic malignancies including leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
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Preventing Delirium During Hospital Stays With Nonpharmacologic Interventions

Delirium, a sudden onset of confusion frequently seen in older patients, was once thought to be a temporary condition that patients “snapped out of” after being discharged from the hospital. However, it is now recognized that delirium may lead to longer-term cognitive impairment and poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of death, nursing home placement and memory problems.
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Nasal Vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease Nears Human Trials

Reduction in Aβ-levels (green) in mice after weekly intranasal Protollin for 6 weeks in treated (right) versus control (left)*

An intranasal vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is expected to begin its first human trial in 2020, culminating nearly 25 years of research led by Howard L. Weiner, MD, co-director of the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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