Indiana University School of Medicine-Fort Wayne partners with Parkview to research long-term symptoms of COVID-19

FORT WAYNE, IND. – MARCH 31, 2021 – Building on a long history of collaboration, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Fort Wayne (IUSM-FW) will partner with the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation and the new Parkview Post-COVID Clinic to research underlying causes and potential treatments for long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

The teams’ research will help support the Parkview Post-COVID Clinic, which opened March 25, and provides multi-disciplinary support and care for people with post-acute sequelae of COVID-19. The patients, commonly known as COVID-19 “long-haulers,” suffer from symptoms for weeks or months following infection.

The teams will primarily focus on neuroscience research, as many of the lingering symptoms appear to be neurological in nature.

“Symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, sensory disturbances, fatigue and loss of taste and smell are linked to inflammation of the brain,” said Fen-Lei Chang, MD, PhD, IUSM-FW regional campus dean and professor of neurology, who is also leading the Parkview Post-COVID Clinic. “Through this collaboration, we will gain a better understanding of the cause of the symptoms our long-hauler patients experience, and therefore, find more treatment options to provide relief.”

“This collaboration will provide foundational data about the symptoms of patients suffering from post-COVID syndrome,” said Michael J. Mirro, MD, SVP and chief academic research officer at Parkview Health, who is also a clinical professor of medicine at IUSM-FW. “Combining academic research with clinical data and predictive analytics will help uncover useful insights into potential treatments.”

Researchers at IUSM-FW are well equipped to study COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms, as the topic is related to their ongoing research in the field.

“Our translational research group is particularly suited to study the impact of COVID-19 on the brain,” said Ivorine Yu, PhD, IUSM-FW assistant professor of anatomy, cell biology and physiology. “Our previous work has demonstrated that systemic inflammation caused by microbial infection can profoundly lead to brain inflammation and cognitive impairment.”

“We hope to learn whether a persistent inflammatory immune response to COVID-19 could lead to post-COVID neurological symptoms. Identifying the disease mechanisms may lead to treatment options,” said Jimmy Yen, PhD, IUSM-FW associate professor of microbiology and immunology.

Yen’s team concentrates its research on brain inflammation in relationship to various neurological illnesses. Yen recently received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the repurposing of interferon-beta, an approved treatment for multiple sclerosis, to attenuate brain inflammation caused by ischemic stroke.

Collaborating with the IUSM-FW faculty and providers at the Parkview Post-COVID Clinic, the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation team also plans to use the research and clinical data to create a predictive model that can serve as a decision support for providers.

“We plan to leverage our teams’ research expertise in immunology and data science to push care forward,” said Tammy Toscos, MS, PhD, director of health services and informatics research, Parkview Health. “We will also work directly with clinicians in the Parkview Post-COVID Clinic to ensure our research findings are both rooted in clinical truth and can be immediately translated to improve patient care.”

Due to the emerging nature of post-COVID treatment, the Parkview Post-COVID Clinic’s initial capacity is limited. Patients must be at least 18 years old, have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, and have lingering symptoms at least four weeks post-diagnosis. Contact your Parkview Physicians Group primary care provider to determine if you qualify for a referral.