Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) Treatment

Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) occurs in patients with deficient immune systems, such as AIDS patients or those with:

  • Organ transplants (only on rare occasions)
  • Persons with certain lymphatic cancers, including Hodgkin's disease, sarcoidosis and lymphoma
  • People with other types of immunodeficient conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, or organ transplant survivors

PML Treatment

PML is rarely curable. As its name suggests, the disease is progressive, eventually causing death within weeks or months. It is more successfully treated in AIDS patients whose modern therapies have advanced and do less damage to the immune system. In AIDS patients, when harmful immunosuppressive drugs are stopped and more modern drugs are used, the immune system ceases to be damaged and the PML clears up.

In the other rare cases of occurrence of PML, the virus disables people over a period of weeks to months before death occurs. The disease causes headaches, and as it progresses, increasing clumsiness and lack of coordination, aphasia or loss of language ability, loss of memory, vision trouble, and weakness of the arms and legs that continues to worsen.

Cause: JC Virus

PML is caused by a common virus, which was discovered in 1971 when the virus was isolated from the brain of a patient named John Cunningham. The virus is called the JC virus or JCV. This virus is very common and thought to be present in 85 percent of people before they are nine years old. It remains harmless until it infects someone whose immune system is compromised.

JCV is found in the waste water of urban environments. Because the virus has mutations that are specific to certain regions around the world, it makes it possible to follow the migration of groups of people.

The virus attacks the myelin in the brain and spinal cord. Myelin is a protective sheath around the nerve cells, helping them to speed its signals more rapidly through the brain and the body. n addition to destroying the myelin, other types of abnormalities occur in the brain, destroying tissue and harming normal function.

In most people who harbor the virus, it is believed to live in the kidneys, where it does no harm until a patient's immune system is compromised. If a patient becomes immunocompromised, the virus is reactivated, travels through the blood to the brain, where it selectively kills the myelin surrounding nerve cells.

The effects of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy are usually irreversible. Contact a PML attorney to seek compensation today.

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