A new study shows that the olfactory cell types are most vulnerable to infection by the novel coronavirus. The sensory neurons that are involved in detecting and transmitting the sense of smell to the brain are not vulnerable cell types. Loss of smell also known as anosmia is the most commonly reported indicator of COVID-19 infection. It is said to better predict the infection than the other symptomatic indicators but the underlying mechanism for this is still unknown.
An international team of researchers guided by neuroscientists at Harvard medical school has thrown light on the new discovery. The study clearly suggests that the non-neuronal cell types may be responsible for anosmia in COVID-19 patients and helps with understanding the progression of the disease better. The study also offers clues that suggest COVID-19 related neurological issues. The observations suggest that the virus may affect the brain function rather than infecting neurons. The results from the research help in better understanding the loss of smell in patients with the virus which can lead to treatments and better smell based diagnostics for the diseases.
This study can help create a pathway towards disease progression on different aspects like the loss of smell etc. These efforts will require studies in facilities that allow experiments with live analysis of the disease progression which is still difficult to get to as the disease is extremely contagious.