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Exploring neurocognitive impairments in Long Covid: an interview with Marta Massanella

Delving into the EPIVINF study and its impact on understanding Long Covid's neurological effects with principal investigator Marta Massanella

Could you introduce yourself and your role at IrsiCaixa?

Hi, I’m Marta Massanella, principal investigator at IrsiCaixa. I’m involved in EPIVINF, specifically in work package 1, which focuses on the harmonization of clinical cohorts. My main involvement is with the Long Covid cohort, but I also participate in the cohort of People Living with HIV who have been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines.

Can you tell us more about the KING cohort and your role in it?

Sure! I coordinate the KING cohort along with Lourdes Mateu. This study has enrolled more than 600 individuals with Long Covid, providing us with valuable clinical specimens. For the EPIVINF study, we’ve extended this cohort to evaluate neurocognitive impairments in Long Covid patients.

What are the specifics of the extended study on neurocognitive impairments?

In the extended study, we are enrolling 20 individuals with Long Covid and neurocognitive impairments who were infected with pre-Omicron variants, and 20 who were infected with Omicron. One of our aims is to explore how these different variants affect neurocognitive impairments. We’re also enrolling matched controls for these Long Covid patients.

How are you complementing your research with other cohorts?

We are collaborating with the cohort from San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, which includes over 1000 individuals who were hospitalized during the acute phase of COVID-19 and developed neurocognitive impairments. Our cohort, in contrast, focuses on individuals who developed neurocognitive impairments after mild to moderate COVID-19 infection.

What are you hoping to achieve with these cohorts?

With these cohorts, we aim to evaluate the different mechanisms behind the development of neurocognitive impairments in Long Covid patients. There are still many unknowns regarding the neurological effects of Long Covid, and the EPIVINF study will provide significant insights into this new condition.

What makes this research particularly important right now?

This research is crucial because there are still many unknowns about the neurological impacts of Long Covid. Understanding these can help us develop better treatment and management strategies for those affected.