Loss of smell — a major COVID-19 symptom since the beginning of the pandemic — appears to be linked to damage in the brain, a new study has found.

Why it matters: Loss of smell is one of the major telling signs of the coronavirus, impacting thousands of people every day.

  • The coronavirus has also been found to cause brain damage in some patients.
  • Linking the two major symptoms together can tell researchers and medical experts a lot about the virus.

What they found: Researchers said in a new study that they found a possible reason for the loss of smell COVID-19 symptom, according to Forbes.

  • The study, published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology, found that COVID-19 patients often had damaged blood vessels and axons — which are nerve cells that communicate with other cells — in the part of the brain that processes smell, per Forbes.
  • Damage to axons and microscopic blood vessels was more severe in patients with COVID-19 than in other people.
  • COVID-19 patients who said they had changes to their sense of smell were affected more by the damage to axons and blood vessels.

Yes, but: Those with severe COVID-19 symptoms were not more likely to have damage to these cells and blood vessels, according to Forbes.

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The bigger picture: Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University are trying to develop a treatment for those who have lost their sense of smell from COVID-19 — a condition known as anosmia.

  • The researchers are using platelet-rich plasma as a restorative therapy to repair any cells damaged due to the COVID-19 infection, per ABC News.
  • Patients need to receive treatments for at least three months.
  • However, the researchers are still in the first phase of testing.
  • Scientists hope to expand the research to help people recover from smell loss, Deseret News’ Ashley Nash writes.
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