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Joseph Berger to Speak at AAN Annual Meeting

Media Contact: Amy Ratliff, 859-257-1754, x252 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2009) 

Dr. Joseph Berger, chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, has been selected as a speaker at the annual meeting of the prestigious American Academy of Neurology (AAN) on April 28 in Seattle, Wash. The AAN is the largest annual meeting of neurologists in the world.

The AAN's Science Committee selected Berger for a presentation that will highlight the latest advances in neuroscience and neurology research. Berger will present on the topic of Progressive Multifocal Encephalopathy and Multiple Sclerosis during the annual meeting's Hot Topics Plenary Session.

"Given Dr. Berger's breadth of knowledge and experience in the field, the committee has no doubt that he will use this forum to highlight recent developments in this area with a talk that is both exciting and useful to the practicing physician," said Science Committee Chair Dr. Stefan M. Pulst.

Berger's presentation will discuss the current understanding of a disorder of the white matter of the brain known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. This disorder is the result of a common virus, JC virus, that the majority of the population is exposed to during childhood. It is very rare and almost never affects otherwise healthy individuals. However, it is quite common in those with HIV infection. The virus has recently been observed among patients taking newer biological agents, in particular, ones that are being used or have been promoted for use in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, as well as other disorders. The occurrence of this disorder among patients taking medication that selectively affects the immune system has provided insights into the understanding of the biology of the causative virus and this demyelinating disorder.

"An improved understanding of the biology of PML may allow us to more comfortably use biologic agents that appear to predispose to the development of the disorder," said Berger. "Strategies that would prevent the disorder or lead to early recognition of the disorder and prompt institution of effective treatment are among the possibilities."


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