AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018


Researchers Shed Light on Pathway from Virus to Brain Disease

Up to 80 percent of healthy adults can become infected with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) caused by the John Cunningham polyomavirus (JCV). Normally, JCV is completely harmless. For those who are suffering from an issue that can cause a suppressed immune system, such as AIDS, JCV can develop into brain disease in which the brain’s white matter becomes affected. Patients who are also taking immunosuppressant drugs for autoimmune conditions also have a higher chance of developing the disease. Currently, this disease is most common in patients with MS who have the virus and are taking immunosuppressant therapy called natalizumab. “Nobody comes away unscathed from PML – you either die or you’re left with a lifelong searing neurological defect,” said Aron E. Lukacher, chair and professor of microbiology and immunology. “Because we don’t know how the drugs cause the JC virus to amplify from a silent infection, we really have no way of controlling it.” To read more, click here.

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