Dr. Edmarie Guzmán-Vález has been studying the effects of a vitamin B3 complex on symptoms of long-COVID. Her passion for sience is equaled by her passion for inspiring young researchers from her native Puerto Rico (see side bar below).
Around the world, millions of people previously infected with COVID-19 have been reporting a collection of lasting chronic symptoms including, but not limited to, fatigue, “brain fog,” headaches, and insomnia, known as “Long-COVID” or post-acute COVID syndrome.
These symptoms often interfere with their work, daily activities, and ability to lead a fulfilling life. (see McCance Clinic patient story [LINK]) In addition, it is believed that COVID-19 could also have short- and long-term effects on the brain, possibly even placing some people at greater risk for dementia. Yet, we still know very little about this phenomenon and less about how to treat it.
In a clinical trial lead by Dr. Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez, McCance Center faculty, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and neuropsychologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, she, Dr. Steven Arnold and her collaborators have been studying the effects of a vitamin B3 complex called Nicotinamide riboside or Niagen on the NAD+ metabolome, which is vital for cell energy, and symptoms of long-COVID.
The study’s primary focus is to examine the effect of this supplement on cognitive functioning, neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep, as well as other physical symptoms like fatigue, pain and headaches. They are also using neuroimaging techniques to examine brain changes associated with long-COVID, and blood to examine evidence of inflammation and damage to brain cells.
Researchers are optimistic that this safe supplement will help individuals with long-COVID recover faster and even decrease the risk for further brain damage.
Clinical Trial Enrolling Now
The clinical trial is currently recruiting and enrolling participants who speak Spanish or English. Individuals who are interested in participating in or learning more about the clinical trial can find more information at https://rally.massgeneralbrigham.org/study/covid19_niagen or by emailing COVIDNiagenStudy@mgh.harvard.edu. A bilingual research coordinator will then contact the individuals to complete a pre-screening that generally takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete over the phone. The coordinators will ask questions about symptoms, infection date, personal contact information, and take a brief medically history to be able to schedule the first visit. The trial lasts approximately five and a half months.
Clinical Trial Director Dr. Guzmán-Vélez is Inspiring Young Scientists
Beyond her work on Long-COVID, Dr. Edmarie Guzmán Vélez is passionate about inspiring young scientists from her native Puerto Rico. In telling her story, she often refers to the moment as an adolescent when the “scientific seed was planted,” instilling in her a passion for brain science.
As co-director of the Sagrado Neuroscience Pre-college Program (SNPP) with Dr. Héctor De Jesús-Cortés, research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Edmarie Guzmán Vélez is working to nurture the next generations of scientists from under-represented backgrounds from Puerto Rico.
The SNPP is a summer internship program supported by Universidad de Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico and MIT, designed to provide opportunities in neuroscience and mentoring to high school students in grades 9, 10, and 11 who are interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM).
Students who are admitted into the program are typically from low to middle socioeconomic backgrounds, female and from public schools in rural and urban areas of Puerto Rico.
The program has already impacted over 100 students, many of whom have gone on to be admitted to prestigious universities including Harvard College, Yale, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Georgia Tech, Princeton, Columbia, Stanford, Villanova, University of Pennsylvania, Notre Dame, and University of Puerto Rico, among others.
More information can be found at https://sagradoglobal.lpages.co/