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Clinical Virology Programs

University of Minnesota Foundation Link for Gifts to I CARE

December 2nd, 2013

The University of Minnesota Foundation has created a direct link for giving to our research program, the University of Minnesota International Center for Antiviral Research and Epidemiology.  All gifts are greatly appreciated and will help us fight viral diseases especially those caused by the mono virus, Epstein-Barr (EBV).  We also have research designed to conquer multiple sclerosis (MS).  EBV is a major environmental factor for contracting MS.  Thanks to all of you who read this and consider making a gift to support our research.

Here’s the link to click on:

Happy Holidays from all of us at I CARE!

Epstein-Barr Virus Infection in Young Children

October 13th, 2013

How do young children acquire the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) also known as the Mono virus?  We don’t know.  That’s why we’re doing a study in a Child Development Center as part of an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant awarded to Emma Filtz, a member of our research team.  The first step will be to learn if we can recover EBV from the throat swabs or oral washings of about 30 toddlers.  If we are successful, we will expand the study to include many more subjects in several centers to explore family and environmental factors that may be associated with transmission of EBV.

Multiple Sclerosis and Mono Virus Study

August 24th, 2013

Clinical Virology Programs in collaboration with the Department of Neurology is investigating why Epstein-Barr virus (the Mono virus) is a major environmental risk factor for acquisition of multiple sclerosis (MS).  Our hypothesis is that MS patients have abnormal immune defenses against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which either permit the virus to attack the central nervous system or encourage the body to attack itself.  A pilot study looking at early relapsing-remitting MS subjects has just been approved by University of Minnesota Research Subjects Protection Program and is opening to enrollment.

The Connection between Multiple Sclerosis and Epstein-Barr Virus

July 3rd, 2013

Clinical Virology Programs in concert with the Department of Neurology will be conducting a study whose hypothesis is that abnormal immune responses to Epstein-Barr virus infection increase susceptibility to and severity of MS.  Stay tuned for detailed information on this research.  A cross-sectional study is planned to launch as early as August 1, 2013.

Class of 2016 Mono Study Ends Clinic Visits

June 30th, 2013

The prospective study of primary EBV infection in freshmen students ended its clinic visit phase on June 27, 2013.  Overall, 87 students made 1,338 visits to the Clinical Virology Research Clinic between September 2012 and June 2013.  There were 16 cases of primary EBV infection; 14 were mono, 1 subject was symptomatic but didn’t meet the criteria for a clinical mono diagnosis, and 1 student was completely asymptomatic.  A great big thanks to those who participated and made it possible to achieve our goal: collection of samples during the incubation period of mono.  These samples should prove very valuable as we attempt to define early immune responses that govern severity of illness.

Two CVP Students Receive Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Grants

May 14th, 2013

Congratulations to Emma Filtz and Jenn Grimm who were recently awarded UROP grants.  Emma will be studying the shedding of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the daycare setting.  Jenn will be using line immunoblot technology to investigate evolution of EBV-specific antibodies during the incubation period of primary EBV infection.  We are very proud of our undergraduate research students!

Balfour Presents at the European Bone Marrow Transplant Meeting

April 12th, 2013

Dr. Balfour gave an invited talk about monitoring Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections after hematopoietic cell transplantation at the 39th annual meeting of the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation on April 8, 2013 in London.  He suggested whom to monitor, for how long, and what the threshold for intervention should be.  At the same session, monitoring of cytomegalovirus and aspergillus infections were also discussed.

Age-specific Prevalence of EBV Infections among Children in the U.S.

April 3rd, 2013

A research study on age-specific prevalence of EBV infections among children 6 to 19 years old has just been accepted for publication in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.  The major findings of this study were that (1) antibody prevalence (indicative of a previous EBV infection) in whites was significantly lower than in non-whites, and (2) antibody prevalence has been declining over time, meaning that more children could be susceptible to Mono (most commonly caused by EBV) in the future .  To accomplish this research, the team tested surplus serum samples from 9,400 children who participated in the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys between 2003 and 2010.

Mono 5 Research Publication Draws International Praise

December 20th, 2012

Our Mono 5 surveillance study will be published in the January 1, 2013 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.  In an accompanying editorial, British investigators Rickinson and Fox stated that our research “is likely to become the definitive study identifying the true burden of acute disease caused by [the Epstein-Barr virus]” and called our study “heroic.”  Dr. Tony Epstein, co-discoverer of EBV, commented: “Outstanding …results.  Congratulations!  This is clearly a milestone.”

We owe a great deal of thanks to our loyal subjects who stayed with us throughout their undergraduate years and made more than 2,500 visits to our research clinic.

WCCO-AM 830 broadcast a news report about our findings on 12/17/12.  You can listen by clicking the link below.

Epstein Barr Virus WRAP

Mono Surveillance Study Progress Report

December 7th, 2012

We screened 279 freshmen this past September and found that 135 were naive to EBV because they had no antibodies against the virus.  87 of the EBV-naive freshmen have remained on study in the prospective surveillance phase and have made 545 visits to our Clinical Virology Research Clinic to date.  Ten primary EBV infections have been documented.  Nine of the 10 have been sick, while one subject remained entirely asymptomatic.