Academy and PML Consortium to Host Conference on Serious Neurological Disease Affecting Patients with Compromised Immune Systems

Industry and academia come together to address novel issues, current challenges and future directions of research and treatment for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

Published May 29, 2013

NEW YORK, May 29, 2013—On June 19 – 20, the New York Academy of Sciences will jointly present a conference on Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy to discuss scientific advances regarding this debilitating and often fatal neurological disease.

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare demyelinating disease of the brain with no known cure, often resulting in severe disability or death. PML is caused by infection of the JC polyomavirus (JCV), of which 60% percent of the population has been exposed. Despite the high prevalence of JCV infection, incidence of PML in the general population is very low. Patients with compromised immune systems, such as individuals with HIV-1 infection/AIDS, autoimmune conditions, or those undergoing chemotherapy or other immune-suppressive treatments, are at the greatest risk. In recent years, the expanding use of immunosuppressive drugs has increased the number of people at risk of developing PML.

"The PML Consortium is pleased to host this conference with the New York Academy of Sciences on this rare but significant disease," says Teresa Compton, PhD, Chair of the Conference Planning Committee and Vice President, Translational Sciences and Virology at Biogen Idec. "The conference will bring together clinical and basic researchers for presentation of new findings and a robust discussion of the challenges and future directions of research relevant to JCV biology, PML risk mitigation, and clinical management."

Investigators, including basic science researchers, clinicians, physicians, epidemiologists, and regulatory experts from academia, industry, and government will "tackle the resolution of how a viral-induced brain infection has become a substantial road block to the use of valuable therapies for underlying conditions like MS, cancers, and rheumatic diseases," says conference speaker Eugene O. Major, PhD, Senior Investigator, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH.

"Following on the footsteps of a meeting sponsored jointly by the FDA and EMA in 2011, this PML meeting should bring clarity and consensus on specific research pathways to move ahead. We should all be eager to move in that direction," says Major.

The meeting will feature a series of plenary lectures, short presentations selected from late-breaking abstract submissions, a poster session, and a closing panel discussion.

For more information, including a full conference agenda, please visit: www.nyas.org/pml2013.

Media must RSVP to Diana Friedman (dfriedman@nyas.org; 212-298-8645).

 

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About the PML Consortium

The PML Consortium is a joint multi-institution effort between Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, MedImmune and Roche which is intended to enhance the understanding of, and to identify more effective methods of predicting, and eventually, preventing and treating PML. The Consortium was formed in 2009 out of a recognition of the importance of addressing PML and the benefits of a collaborative approach to obtain sufficient data and samples to conduct research to comprehensively evaluate the disease and identify new potential risk factors. By pooling resources and sharing data, the Consortium hopes to make significant progress in understanding how to better minimize the risk of PML for patients, and to achieve the best care and protection for patients. For more information, please visit pmlconsortium.org.

 

About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at www.nyas.org.