A group of researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia are trying to resolve one of COVID-19’s biggest mysteries. Loss of smell, also known as anosmia, is one of COVID-19’s most striking symptoms, one that has affected over 1.5 million people in the long term.
A statement published on the university’s website explains the research in-depth and the types of methods that experts are experimenting with in order to get participants to get their smell back.
The method that researchers have devised relies on implanting the patient’s plasma on the nose. Still, researchers wanted to come up with a way that was less invasive, providing patients with a topical application once a month for at least three months.
“I’ve dedicated over two decades to helping patients recover from the loss of taste and smell,” said Dr. David Rosen, MD, Otolaryngologist, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. “It was very important to me and our team to explore less invasive options as this issue has become increasingly prevalent due to COVID-19. The results of phase I of the clinical trial have been promising and we are looking forward to phase II to further improve the treatment.”
The plasma that’s administered acts as a restorative agent, regenerating cells, tissue in the nose and the nasal tract, areas that were disturbed by the presence of the virus. While the research is still in its early stages, participants are already reporting symptoms of improvement.
In a study published this year, researchers finally understood why COVID-19 triggers episodes of anosmia. “Researchers discovered that the coronavirus does not infect brain cells. Instead, it attacks supporting cells located in the nasal cavity. As the infected cells shed the virus and die off, the immune system floods to the nasal area with immune cells. This activity inflames the area, disturbing smell receptors and completely disrupting how they normally work. It’s a sort of brain short circuit that can last for weeks,” we wrote in a previous post.
While a loss of smell may not sound like the worse side effect of a deadly virus, its long-term presence greatly affects people’s quality of life, reducing their interest in food, causing a loss of appetite, and even facilitating depressive episodes.
For the time being, this experimental solution could provide an answer to the thousands of people who are still waiting to get their smell and taste back after losing it to a COVID-19 infection.