JC virus (JCV) causes progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a demyelinating disease in humans. The disease, once considered fatal, is now managed with immune reconstitution therapy; however, surviving patients remain severely debilitated. Until now, there has been no animal model to study JCV in the brain, and research into treatment has relied on cell culture systems. In this issue of the JCI, Kondo and colleagues developed a mouse model in which human glial cells are engrafted into neonatal mice that are both immunodeficient and deficient for myelin basic protein. When challenged intracerebrally with JCV, these mice exhibit some of the characteristics of PML. The establishment of this chimeric mouse model is a significant advance toward understanding the mechanism of JCV pathogenesis and the identification of drugs to treat or prevent the disease.
Sheila A. Haley, Walter J. Atwood
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