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Health tech pioneers investigate COVID and the brain

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Health tech pioneers are investigating the impact of COVID on the brain.

Two health tech projects aimed at addressing the impact of COVID on the brain and mental health have received European funding.

The two proposals answered the Human Brain Project’s (HBP) calls for expression of interest (CEol) on “COVID-19 and its impact on brain and mental health”.

They have received a share of £383,000 (EUR 450,000) in funding from the European Commission (EC).

The BRAVE project proposes tackling COVID-19 brain inflammation with computer-designed molecules.

Its molecular simulation, at the FENIX supercomputing facility of the Human Brain Project, will be used to design molecules targeting brain proteins that govern inflammation processes.

These chemicals could act as potent anti-inflammatories. Once developed, such usable tools could enhance humanity’s readiness to face novel pandemics.

The coordinator of this project is the University of Turin, Department of Drug Science and Technology (UNITO), Italy.

The MODEL-COV project, meanwhile, addresses the persistent symptoms caused by the virus, including fatigue and loss of smell.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows for comparisons between brain properties in people who had COVID-19 and those who did not.

By using cutting edge imaging protocols and advanced tools, the MODEL-COV project aims to detail how COVID-19 might have changed the brain, and try to explain the persistence of symptoms.

This project can mathematically model how the COVID-19-affected brain works, compared to a generic unaffected brain.

This could then enable health and science to work together to reverse such negative changes. The impact on society would be major, as humanity is currently unsure of the nature of COVID-19 effects on the brain.

The coordinator of this project is the University College London, Queen Square Institute of Neurology (UCL).

Funding runs from December 2021 to March 2023, and is subject to the successful signature of relevant agreements.

Other partners involved in the BRAVE project include University of Pavia, Department of Chemistry (UNIPV) (Italy) Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, INM-9 and Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) (both in Germany).

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