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Funded Studies

Pathogenesis of the Virome in Parkinson’s Disease

Study Rationale:
Numerous studies have implicated viruses as causal factors or potential triggers for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Our study will provide a comprehensive understanding of all the viral dynamics in PD. This will also allow us to track those viruses in the blood and spinal fluid of living PD patients     

Our central hypothesis is that virus variants, or yet unknown viruses, are able to reach the central nervous system and remain latent by hiding in neurons, thereby escaping detection from the immune system. Recurrent reactivation during aging triggers an immune and inflammatory reaction that can lead to PD in some individuals.

Study Design:
We will analyze samples of brain tissue from areas known to be affected in Parkinson’s and samples of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from people with PD and age-matched control subjects. We will analyze the entire viral genome, characterize viral variants and, potentially, discover novel viruses.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
This study may allow us to determine a possible association between neurotropic viruses and PD, which could provide innovative and impactful insight into PD pathogenesis and nominate potential treatment targets.

Next Steps for Development:
Data obtained from this pilot study will open new lines of investigations and could be used in application for other grants to support virological and immunological studies and to integrate viromics with genomics and metabolomics analysis.


  • Igor J. Koralnik, MD

    Chicago, IL United States

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