NIH launches 5-year, $10 million study on acute flaccid myelitis
Researchers and physicians are working to understand if there is a connection between certain viral outbreaks and AFM, and if so, why some children but not others experience sudden muscle weakness and paralysis.
July 25, 2019 | By Michele G. Sullivan | Neurology Reviews
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will lead a 5-year, federally-funded study of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) – a rare pediatric neurologic disease.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) awarded the $10 million grant to primary investigator, a UAB professor of pediatrics. , professor of neurology and pathology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, is the co-principal investigator.
The university will organize and implement the international, multisite study. Its primary goal is to examine the incidence and distribution of AFM, and its pathogenesis and progression. Enrollment is expected to commence next fall. Investigators will enroll children with symptoms of AFM and follow them for 1 year. Household contacts of the subjects will serve as comparators.
In addition to collecting data about risk factors and disease progression, the researchers will collect clinical specimens, including blood and cerebrospinal fluid. More details about the design and study sites will be released then, according to aissued by NIAID.
AFM targets spinal nerves and often develops after a mild respiratory illness. The disease mounted a global epidemic comeback in 2014, primarily affecting children; it has occurred concurrently with enterovirus outbreaks.
“Growing epidemiological evidence suggests that enterovirus-D68 [EV-D68] could play a role,” the statement noted. “Most people who become infected with EV-D68 are asymptomatic or experience mild, cold-like symptoms. Researchers and physicians are working to understand if there is a connection between these viral outbreaks and AFM, and if so, why some children but not others experience this sudden muscle weakness and paralysis.”
The study will draw on the expertise of the, established last fall. The group comprises physicians, scientists, and public health experts from diverse disciplines and institutions who will assist in the ongoing investigation.
The AFM natural history study is funded under contract HHSN272201600018C.
Erika Augustine MD, MS
Tauna Batiste MS
Alison Bateman-House PhD, MPH, MA
Sharon Begley BA
Derek Bowen BS
PJ Brooks PhD
Program Director, Office of Rare Diseases Research, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, NIH
Wilson Bryan MD
Mona Chitre PharmD
Danielle Edwards BA
Emily Farkas PA-C
Tanya Fischer MD, PhD
Jayne Gershkowitz BA
Martin Graham PhD
David Jacoby MD, PhD
Karl Kieburtz MD, MPH
Jinkuk Kim PhD
Nikki Marinsek PhD
Rachel McMinn PhD
Elissa Orlando MPA
Sean Nicholson PhD
Traci Schilling MD
Benjamin Schlatka MBA
Scott Steele PhD
Marshall Summar MD
Holly Tabor PhD
Nancy Yu BS
Dina Zand MD