Scientists announce possible treatment for severe viral brain infection

Scientists announce possible treatment for severe viral brain infection.
Scientists announce possible treatment for severe viral brain infection. | Courtesy of
Scientists from the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich have announced that there may be future novel treatment methods for a rare, typically fatal brain disease known as “progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.”

The disease is caused by a viral infection, but now that the researchers have found that certain antibodies have a crucial role in fighting the virus, a vaccine may be possible in the future.

"In healthy people, the disease never breaks out as the immune system keeps it well under control,” Roland Martin, professor of neurology at the University of Zurich, said. “Once the immune system is compromised, however, such as in patients with tumors, leukemia, AIDS, autoimmune diseases and certain immunosuppressive treatments, the JC virus is able to alter its genetic information and infect the brain.”

An international team of scientists have conducted two studies to show that the antibodies found within PML patients do not recognize the virus that infects them.

"We made a major breakthrough," Martin said. “We managed to isolate antibody-producing cells from a patient who survived PML and use them to produce neutralizing antibodies against the JC virus. These human antibodies have a major advantage: they recognize the most important mutants of the JC virus that can cause PML. They now make promising candidates for the development of a treatment for PML."

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University of Zurich

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