Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy, a life-threatening brain infection, has recently been linked to the use of both Rituxan and Raptiva.
What is Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy?
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a serious, rare and fatal viral disease involving inflammation of the white matter of the brain. PML is caused by the JC virus (JCV). This virus is found in a lot of people, but usually does not cause symptoms. However, it triggers PML in people who have severe immune deficiency. PML is almost always deadly, and patients commonly die within 3-6 months of developing it.
Signs & Symptoms of Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy
The following is a list of signs and symptoms related to Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy:
- Mental deterioration
- Vision loss
- Speech disturbances
- Muscle weakness
- Facial weakness
- Memory failure
- Cognition failure
Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy Diagnosis and Treatment Options
PML is diagnosed by testing for the JC virus in cerebrospinal fluid or in a brain biopsy specimen. An MRI can also detect damage caused by PML in the brain. Other possible tests include Cytology exam of the urine, CT scan, or electroencephalography, a test to look at brain waves. Treatment consists of anti-viral and other medications including cidofovir and interleukin-2. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is also a treatment used in some AIDS patients.