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Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is a rare but serious disease. Caused by the JC virus (JCV), it occurs in individuals with weakened immune systems and is a potential adverse reaction for certain immunomodulatory drugs. The PML Consortium was created to find better methods to predict, prevent, and treat PML. The Consortium brought together the pharmaceutical industry with academic, regulatory, and patient communities to advance research and dialogue on PML through a not-for-profit, collaborative approach involving a grant program, scientific workshops and conferences, and disease awareness efforts. Over nearly a decade, the Consortium contributed to the PML and JCV fields by advancing research, scientific exchange, and awareness of PML. In addition to advancing knowledge and helping to build cross-sector consensus on research priorities, the Consortium’s grant program filled a funding gap and brought new investigators into PML and JCV research. Additionally, the Consortium’s workshops and conferences created platforms for exchange that drove dialogue on knowledge gaps and future research directions. The Consortium also contributed to the scientific knowledge base with two literature reviews, one on PML treatment studies and a second on T cell deficiencies as a risk factor for PML and the brain as a site for conversion of harmless JCV into a pathogenic virus. Finally, the Consortium addressed a significant information gap with its disease awareness website for healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers. Beyond its impact on the PML and JCV fields, the PML Consortium is important because it provides a precedent for how the pharmaceutical industry, academic researchers, patient organizations, and government can work together to address rare diseases, in particular rare adverse events. This kind of collaboration could be replicated to speed progress in addressing other rare diseases and adverse events, with significant potential benefits for the scientific, medical, and patient communities.
PML Consortium (PML Consortium, Washington, DC).
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- The Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy Consortium as a Model for Advancing Research and Dialogue on Rare Severe Adverse Drug Reactions
Ilse S. Peterson
William O. Iverson
Marion T. Kasaian
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