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Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University discover MS-like disease in monkeys
Date:6/28/2011

ers have long believed that a virus, possibly a herpes virus, might trigger the disease in people who are genetically susceptible.

"Understanding how this herpes virus causes the MS-like disease in the monkeys will give us important new knowledge and drive new research that could lead to significant advancements in finding and preventing the virus that might cause MS," said Dennis Bourdette, M.D., a co-author of the study, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Oregon and professor and chairman of the OHSU Department of Neurology.

From 1986 through 2010, 56 of the Japanese macaque monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU spontaneously developed paralysis in their hind limbs, along with other symptoms. The monkeys were humanely euthanized because they could not have been returned to the monkey colony safely. Researchers later did necropsies on the their bodies and performed MRI scans on eight of the animals.

That work and other testing allowed researchers to discover that an MS-like disease called Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis was causing the paralysis. While the disease typically afflicted young adult animals, it also was present in juveniles and older animals, and was present in both males and females.

About 1 to 3 percent of the more than 300 Japanese macaques at the primate center develop the disease each year, according to the researchers.

With this discovery, MS researchers now will be able to move toward trying to prevent or treat the virus in monkeys, which might help scientists make progress in treating MS in humans.


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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert

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