This month’s featured research, published in the Annals of Neurology, identifies a disease in non-human primates that has many similarities to multiple sclerosis (MS). The research is the result of a collaborative effort between multiple departments at OHSU and the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC).
Like MS, Japanese macaque encephalomyelitis (JME) affects a small percentage of non-human primates. Since the macaque colony at ONPRC was established in 1965, only 56 cases of spontaneous, MS-like symptoms have been observed. JME shares other similarities with MS, as it is an inflammatory demyelinating disease, which may have an autoimmune component. In addition, the team was able to culture a herpes-like virus from the nervous systems of the affected monkeys.
OHSU researchers hope that the appearance of this disease will give insight to the causes of human MS. In the future, the plan to study the factors associated with JME in susceptible macaques. They also plan to investigate whether a yet unidentified virus is associated with MS in human patients.