Treating JC Polyomavirus Infection and Associated Leukoencephalopathy

Progressive Multifocal Leukencephalopathy (PML) is a rare but lethal brain disease caused by JC polyomavirus.  PML is a well-known side-effect of immunosuppressive drugs, and currently the only effective intervention is immune reconstitution, which does not reverse existing brain damage and is frequently associated with destructive brain inflammation.

Scientists at the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Cellular Oncology discovered a method of vaccinating a person to prevent the development of PML, which is a risk of immunosuppressive treatment. The scientists discovered that virus-like particles spontaneously assembled from purified capsid proteins of various naturally occurring JCV isolates have the ability to elicit antibody responses that neutralize the infectivity of PML-associated JCV strains.  The vaccine could be offered to patients undergoing immunosuppressive treatment for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, B cell cancers, and Crohn’s disease.  Patients infected with HIV also have an elevated risk of developing PML and would thus be candidates for preventive vaccination with JCV vaccines.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • Treatment for JC virus infection and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
  • Vaccine to prevent PML
  • Companion diagnositic for the development of PML
  • First of its kind treatment against PML and JC virus infections
  • First of its kind diagnostic for identifying patients at risk for developing PML

Development Stage:
Pre-clinical (in vivo)


Christopher Buck (NCI)  ➽ more inventions...

Diana Pastrana (NCI)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:

Christopher B. Buck et al. PMID: 23843634

Collaboration Opportunity:

Licensing and research collaboration

Licensing Contact:
John Hewes, Ph.D.
Phone: 240-276-5515

OTT Reference No: E-549-2013
Updated: Jan 26, 2021