Background There is growing concern about possible cognitive consequences of COVID-19, with reports of ‘Long COVID' symptoms persisting into the chronic phase and case studies revealing neurological problems in severely affected patients. However, there is little information regarding the nature and broader prevalence of cognitive problems post-infection or across the full spread of disease severity. Methods We sought to confirm whether there was an association between cross-sectional cognitive performance data from 81,337 participants who between January and December 2020 undertook a clinically validated web-optimized assessment as part of the Great British Intelligence Test, and questionnaire items capturing self-report of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 infection and respiratory symptoms. Findings People who had recovered from COVID-19, including those no longer reporting symptoms, exhibited significant cognitive deficits versus controls when controlling for age, gender, education level, income, racial-ethnic group, pre-existing medical disorders, tiredness, depression and anxiety. The deficits were of substantial effect size for people who had been hospitalised ( N = 192), but also for non-hospitalised cases who had biological confirmation of COVID-19 infection ( N = 326). Analysing markers of premorbid intelligence did not support these differences being present prior to infection. Finer grained analysis of performance across sub-tests supported the hypothesis that COVID-19 has a multi-domain impact on human cognition. Interpretation These results accord with reports of ‘Long Covid' cognitive symptoms that persist into the early-chronic phase. They should act as a clarion call for further research with longitudinal and neuroimaging cohorts to plot recovery trajectories and identify the biological basis of cognitive deficits in SARS-COV-2 survivors. Funding AH is supported by the UK Dementia Research Institute Care Research and Technology Centre and Biomedical Research Centre at Imperial College London. WT is supported by the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology. SRC is funded by a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship 110,049/Z/15/Z. JMB is supported by Medical Research Council (MR/N013700/1). MAM, SCRW and PJH are, in part, supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London
BACKGROUND Transthyretin amyloidosis, also called ATTR amyloidosis, is a life-threatening disease characterized by progressive accumulation of misfolded transthyretin (TTR) protein in tissues, predominantly the nerves and heart. NTLA-2001 is an in vivo gene-editing therapeutic agent that is designed to treat ATTR amyloidosis by reducing the concentration of TTR in serum. It is based on the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and associated Cas9 endonuclease (CRISPR-Cas9) system and comprises a lipid nanoparticle encapsulating messenger RNA for Cas9 protein and a single guide RNA targeting TTR. METHODS After conducting preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies, we evaluated the safety and pharmacodynamic effects of single escalating doses of NTLA-2001 in six patients with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, three in each of the two initial dose groups (0.1 mg per kilogram and 0.3 mg per kilogram), within an ongoing phase 1 clinical study. RESULTS Preclinical studies showed durable knockout of TTR after a single dose. Serial assessments of safety during the first 28 days after infusion in patients revealed few adverse events, and those that did occur were mild in grade. Dose-dependent pharmacodynamic effects were observed. At day 28, the mean reduction from baseline in serum TTR protein concentration was 52% (range, 47 to 56) in the group that received a dose of 0.1 mg per kilogram and was 87% (range, 80 to 96) in the group that received a dose of 0.3 mg per kilogram. CONCLUSIONS In a small group of patients with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis with polyneuropathy, administration of NTLA-2001 was associated with only mild adverse events and led to decreases in serum TTR protein concentrations through targeted knockout of TTR. (Funded by Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04601051. opens in new tab.)
Effective treatments of neurodegenerative diseases require drugs to be actively transported across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). However, nanoparticle drug carriers explored for this purpose show negligible brain uptake, and the lack of basic understanding of nanoparticle-BBB interactions underlies many translational failures. Here, using two-photon microscopy in mice, we characterize the receptor-mediated transcytosis of nanoparticles at all steps of delivery to the brain in vivo. We show that transferrin receptor-targeted liposome nanoparticles are sequestered by the endothelium at capillaries and venules, but not at arterioles. The nanoparticles move unobstructed within endothelium, but transcytosis-mediated brain entry occurs mainly at post-capillary venules, and is negligible in capillaries. The vascular location of nanoparticle brain entry corresponds to the presence of perivascular space, which facilitates nanoparticle movement after transcytosis. Thus, post-capillary venules are the point-of-least resistance at the BBB, and compared to capillaries, provide a more feasible route for nanoparticle drug carriers into the brain.
Rationale Anxiety, a negative state of high arousal and vigilance, is especially prevalent in women, making identification of underlying mechanisms critical for developing effective therapies. With the challenge of disentangling biological and social factors in humans, animal tests can provide valuable insights, although such tests, developed in males, have unclear validity for females. Objective To better understand patterns of sex differences across multiple measures within two classical rodent anxiety tests. Methods We examined female and male adult Wistar rats (n = 15–18/group) that were single-housed in the novelty suppression of feeding test (NSFT) that involves food under a bright light in food-restricted animals, and light–dark test (LDT), which reflects innate aversion to bright light. To further validate these tests in females, we also examined the impact of 1 mg/kg diazepam. Results NSFT measures of the most direct interaction with food, latency to grab food and food consumed, indicated increased anxiety-like behavior in females versus males, with diazepam altering these behaviors in females but not males. Most other measures showed more similar effects of diazepam across the sexes, with some evidence of reduced anxiety-like behavior in LDT for females. Principal component analyses indicated limited relationships across behavioral factors, underscoring previous suggestions of the importance of assessing multiple measures to maximize information and ethological relevance. Conclusions Combining our findings and previous studies, we speculate that increased anxiety-like behavior in females manifests especially when there is a specific, life-relevant condition (e.g., food in the NSFT). Our findings also validate NSFT and LDT use in females.
Clinical use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) in thrombolytic therapy is limited by its short circulation time and hemorrhagic side effects. Inspired by fibrinogen binding to activated platelets, we report a fibrinogen-mimicking, multiarm nanovesicle for thrombus-specific tPA delivery and targeted thrombolysis. This biomimetic system is based on the lipid nanovesicle coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) terminally conjugated with a cyclic RGD (cRGD) peptide. Our experiments with human blood demonstrated its highly selective binding to activated platelets and efficient tPA release at a thrombus site under both static and physiological flow conditions. Its clot dissolution time in a microfluidic system was comparable to that of free tPA. Furthermore, we report a purpose-built computational model capable of simulating targeted thrombolysis of the tPA-loaded nanovesicle and with a potential in predicting the dynamics of thrombolysis in physiologically realistic scenarios. This combined experimental and computational work presents a promising platform for development of thrombolytic nanomedicines.
Nine different antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) are currently approved as cancer treatments, with dozens more in preclinical and clinical development. The primary goal of ADCs is to improve the therapeutic index of antineoplastic agents by restricting their systemic delivery to cells that express the target antigen of interest. Advances in synthetic biochemistry have ushered in a new generation of ADCs, which promise to improve upon the tissue specificity and cytotoxicity of their predecessors. Many of these drugs have impressive activity against treatment-refractory cancers, although hurdles impeding their broader use remain, including systemic toxicity, inadequate biomarkers for patient selection, acquired resistance and unknown benefit in combination with other cancer therapies. Emerging evidence indicates that the efficacy of a given ADC depends on the intricacies of how the antibody, linker and payload components interact with the tumour and its microenvironment, all of which have important clinical implications. In this Review, we discuss the current state of knowledge regarding the design, mechanism of action and clinical efficacy of ADCs as well as the apparent limitations of this treatment class. We then propose a path forward by highlighting several hypotheses and novel strategies to maximize the potential benefit that ADCs can provide to patients with cancer.
BACKGROUND Psilocybin may have antidepressant properties, but direct comparisons between psilocybin and established treatments for depression are lacking. METHODS In a phase 2, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial involving patients with long-standing, moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder, we compared psilocybin with escitalopram, a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, over a 6-week period. Patients were assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive two separate doses of 25 mg of psilocybin 3 weeks apart plus 6 weeks of daily placebo (psilocybin group) or two separate doses of 1 mg of psilocybin 3 weeks apart plus 6 weeks of daily oral escitalopram (escitalopram group); all the patients received psychological support. The primary outcome was the change from baseline in the score on the 16-item Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology–Self-Report (QIDS-SR-16; scores range from 0 to 27, with higher scores indicating greater depression) at week 6. There were 16 secondary outcomes, including QIDS-SR-16 response (defined as a reduction in score of >50%) and QIDS-SR-16 remission (defined as a score of ≤5) at week 6. RESULTS A total of 59 patients were enrolled; 30 were assigned to the psilocybin group and 29 to the escitalopram group. The mean scores on the QIDS-SR-16 at baseline were 14.5 in the psilocybin group and 16.4 in the escitalopram group. The mean (±SE) changes in the scores from baseline to week 6 were −8.0±1.0 points in the psilocybin group and −6.0±1.0 in the escitalopram group, for a between-group difference of 2.0 points (95% confidence interval [CI], −5.0 to 0.9) (P=0.17). A QIDS-SR-16 response occurred in 70% of the patients in the psilocybin group and in 48% of those in the escitalopram group, for a between-group difference of 22 percentage points (95% CI, −3 to 48); QIDS-SR-16 remission occurred in 57% and 28%, respectively, for a between-group difference of 28 percentage points (95% CI, 2 to 54). Other secondary outcomes generally favored psilocybin over escitalopram, but the analyses were not corrected for multiple comparisons. The incidence of adverse events was similar in the trial groups. CONCLUSIONS On the basis of the change in depression scores on the QIDS-SR-16 at week 6, this trial did not show a significant difference in antidepressant effects between psilocybin and escitalopram in a selected group of patients. Secondary outcomes generally favored psilocybin over escitalopram, but the analyses of these outcomes lacked correction for multiple comparisons. Larger and longer trials are required to compare psilocybin with established antidepressants.
In this report, one of the first known comparisons is made between antibody responses in individuals vaccinated against or infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Serum blood samples were collected from 7 individuals and tested with a surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT). Samples from six of those individuals were also tested with SARS-CoV-2 S1 IgM and IgG ELISA.The study includes men and women aged between 19 and 62 years old. Only one participant does not have a pre infection or vaccination sample. Post-vaccine samples were taken after the first vaccination. No boosters had been administered in the study cohort. The results indicate that 1 vaccination from either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can elicit an antibody response comparable to a natural infection.
Non-invasive Gamma ENtrainment Using Sensory stimulation (GENUS) at 40Hz reduced Alzheimers disease (AD) pathology such as amyloid and tau levels, prevented cerebral atrophy and improved performance during behavioral testing in mouse models of AD. We report data from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial (n = 15) in volunteers with probable mild AD after 4 months of one-hour daily 40Hz sensory stimulation (NCT 04055376) to assess safety, compliance, entrainment and possible effects on brain structure, function, sleep activity and cognitive function. 40Hz light and sound GENUS was well-tolerated and compliance was high in both groups. Electroencephalography recordings show that our novel 40Hz GENUS device safely and effectively induced 40Hz entrainment in participants with mild AD. After 3 months of daily stimulation, the 40Hz GENUS group showed reduced ventricular dilation and stabilization of the hippocampal size compared to the control group. Functional connectivity was found to improve in the default mode network as well as with the medial visual network after 3 months of stimulation. Furthermore, actigraphy recordings show that circadian rhythmicity also improved with 40Hz stimulation. Compared to controls, the active group performed better on the face-name association delayed recall test. These results suggest that 40Hz GENUS can be used safely at home daily and shows favorable outcomes on cognitive function, structure and functional MRI biomarkers of AD-related degeneration. These results support further evaluation of GENUS in larger and longer clinical trials to evaluate its potential as a novel disease modifying therapeutic for Alzheimers dementia.
Human challenge trials (HCTs) are a potential method to accelerate development of vaccines and therapeutics. However, HCTs for COVID-19 pose ethical and practical challenges, in part due to the unclear and developing risks. In this article , we introduce an interactive model for exploring some risks of a severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-COV-2) dosing study, a prerequisite for any COVID-19 challenge trials. The risk estimates we use are based on a Bayesian evidence synthesis model which can incorporate new data on infection fatality risks (IFRs) to patients, and infer rates of hospitalization. The model estimates individual risk, which we then extrapolate to overall mortality and hospitalization risk in a dosing study. We provide a web tool to explore risk under different study designs. Based on the Bayesian model, IFR for someone between 20 and 30 years of age is 15.1 in 100,000, with a 95% uncertainty interval from 11.8 to 19.2, while risk of hospitalization is 130 per 100,000 (100–160). However, risk will be reduced in an HCT via screening for comorbidities, selecting lower-risk population, and providing treatment. Accounting for this with stronger assumptions, we project the fatality risk to be as low as 2.5 per 100,000 (1.6–3.9) and the hospitalization risk to be 22.0 per 100,000 (14.0–33.7). We therefore find a 50-person dosing trial has a 99.74% (99.8–99.9%) chance of no fatalities, and a 98.9% (98.3–99.3%) probability of no cases requiring hospitalization.