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Treating JC Polyomavirus Infection and Associated Leukoencephalopathy

The National Cancer Institute seeks parties interested in collaborative research to co-develop or license methods of treating disorders related to polyomavirus, as well as vaccines for patients undergoing immunosuppressive treatment such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, B cell cancers, and Crohn’s disease.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • JC Virus
  • Progressive Multifocal Leukencephalopathy
  • Immunosuppressive Drugs
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing and co-development.
Description of Technology

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

Christopher B. Buck (NCI), Diana V. Pastrana (NCI)

Development Stage

Christopher B. Buck et al. [PMID: 23843634]

Patent Status
  • U.S. Patent Issued: U.S. Patent Number , Filed 17 Jun 2016, Issued 03 Apr 2018
Therapeutic Area
Monday, April 23, 2018