Author : Mardon, Austin

Sickness, Social Isolation, and a Solution: A Brief Exploration of COVID-19 Related Depression and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Fariha Khan; Peter Anto Johnson; John Christy Johnson; Jasrita Singh; Austin Mardon

Canadian Journal of Medicine, 2022, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 26-31
DOI: 10.33844/cjm.2022.6018

The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated a need for accessible, home-based therapies for mental health. In an era of social distancing, lockdowns, and declining global mental health, one promising candidate is transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). tDCS is a non-invasive, portable, targeted brain stimulation technique that uses electrical currents to modulate cortical excitability. It has been heavily explored as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) and other mental health issues in recent years. However, before such a treatment may become widespread, certain research questions must be addressed, and safety outcomes must be thoroughly evaluated. This article aims to provide a brief overview of tDCS, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on mental health, and tDCS’ potential to be used in such a situation. The article also explores some of the drawbacks and challenges that lie in the way of tDCS being normalized as a mental health therapeutic.

Immunosenescence, COVID-19, and Vaccine Efficacy in the Elderly

Fariha Khan; Peter Anto Johnson; John Christy Johnson; Jasrita Singh; Austin Mardon

Canadian Journal of Medicine, 2022, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 22-25
DOI: 10.33844/cjm.2022.6017

Recent research has unveiled and confirmed the deleterious age-related changes of the immune system which result in diminished ability of older adults to effectively respond to pathogens and infection. This degradation is defined by the term immunosenescence. Immunosenescence can also bring with it reduced vaccine efficacy. In an era where the population of older adults is growing exponentially, it is apparent why such dysfunction is concerning. Adding even more pertinence is the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March of 2020, older adults across the globe have borne witness to the disproportional effects of COVID-19 infection on their mortality rates versus younger adults and children. In order to bring the pandemic to an end, the global population must be inoculated. However, concerns have been raised about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines on the elderly. This article aims to provide a brief overview of immunosenescence, the COVID-19 pandemic, and what research has shown thus far about vaccine efficacy for older adults. As well, potential methods to combat immunosenescence will be explored.

An Evaluation of the Potential of Heparin to Inhibit the Viral Entry of SARS-CoV-2

Sudipta Samadder; Peter Anto Johnson; John Christy Johnson; Austin Mardon

Canadian Journal of Medicine, 2021, Volume 3, Issue Issue 3, Pages 147-152
DOI: 10.33844/cjm.2021.60513

Heparin is an anticoagulant medicine that prevents the formation of harmful blood clots in the vessels. Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), heparin has helped to improve the health of affected patients beyond its anticoagulant effects. The potential antiviral activity of heparin has attracted speculation due to its highly sulfated profile, which allows it to have a high binding affinity to a wide range of viral components. Heparin’s successful binding to the ZIKA virus, human immunodeficiency virus, as well as the SARS CoV and MERS CoV spike proteins have demonstrated its potential to inhibit the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the body. A high degree of sequence homology also enables heparin to have inhibitory binding potential on viral components. The SARS-CoV-2 virus exhibits significant differences in its spike glycoprotein (SGP) sequence compared to other coronaviruses. The SGP sequence in SARS-CoV-2 contains additional potential glycosaminoglycan (GAG) binding domains that may drive differences in the attachment and entry process of the virus. Findings from unbiased computational ligand docking simulations, pseudotyped spike protein experiments, and cell to cell fusion assays have also opened possibilities to investigate the antiviral properties of heparin in clinical trials