ALS Crowd Radio S2:E6 Dr. Avindra Nath, MD: An Activated Virus Causing ALS?

Dr. Avindra Nath, MD
National Institutes of Health, Clinical Director of National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Interview Date: May 17, 2016

Dr. Nath is an expert in viruses and retroviruses.  He speaks about studying human endogenous retrovirus-K (HERV-K) in the context of ALS, and why it could be important.  HERV-K is normally dormant, but Dr. Nath’s study found that in ALS patient brains it has been activated at fairly high levels. HERV-K creates proteins that are toxic to neurons, and points to a possible cause for sporadic ALS.  Dr. Nath believes that antiviral drugs could be used to inhibit HERV-K, and possibly alter the course of ALS.  More research and testing is underway, along with an intense search for an ALS biomarker to use in human clinical trials to prove effectiveness of these treatments. Many antiviral drugs are already FDA approved and commonly prescribed for use in HIV treatment.

ALS Crowd Radio Show with Dr. Nath:

Full Transcript: (available one week after the show)

Dr. Avi Nath joined NIH as the Clinical Director of NINDS in February 2011. Prior to this, he was the Director of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections at Johns Hopkins University for 9 years. His current responsibilities are to oversee and build the clinical research program at NINDS. He is also the Director of the Translational Neuroscience Center. The office has a clinical trials unit that provides assistance in all stages of protocol development and monitoring. It also oversees a unique training program for clinical fellows and residents in Neurology and Neurosurgery. The office oversees a variety of specialized clinics and provides services for investigation and consultation for patients with neurological disorders.

He graduated from Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India, in 1981, completed a residency in Neurology in 1986 and a fellowship in Neuroimmunology from University of Texas in Houston in 1988. He was a clinical fellow in Neurovirology at NINDS from 1988-90. He held faculty positions at University of Manitoba (1990-97), University of Kentucky (1997-2002) and at Johns Hopkins University (2002-11).

His research has focused on the neuropathogenesis, neurological manifestations and treatment of HIV infection, Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy and Multiple Sclerosis. He has published over 300 articles and reviews. He has served on the editorial board of several journals and is currently is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Neurovirology and has edited a book on Clinical Neurovirology.

He is the past Chair of the Section of Neuroinfectious Diseases of the American Academy of Neurology and the current President of the International Society of Neurovirology.

1 reply
  1. Don Garcia
    Don Garcia says:

    My brother has been diagnosed with ALS in the Philippines last month in June 2016. He and his wife left for California and was seen by a doctor from Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles who says that he has onset ALS BUT STILL HAS A 5-7% chance it is not. It has taken a toll on our family and seem to have disagreements as to what to do next. There have been so much information regarding ALS treatment, studies, therapies. How can we decipher the right treatment whether experimental or otherwise that can best help my brother?

    Thank you!


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