Even though an estimated 10-20 million people worldwide are infected with the oncogenic retrovirus, human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), its epidemiology is poorly understood, and little effort has been made to reduce its prevalence. In response to this situation, the Global Virus Network launched a taskforce in 2014 to develop new methods of prevention and treatment of HTLV-1 infection and promote basic research. HTLV-1 is the etiological agent of two life-threatening diseases, adult T-cell leukemia and HTLV-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis, for which no effective therapy is currently available. Although the modes of transmission of HTLV-1 resemble those of the more familiar HIV-1, routine diagnostic methods are generally unavailable to support the prevention of new infections. In the present article, the Taskforce proposes a series of actions to expand epidemiological studies; increase research on mechanisms of HTLV-1 persistence, replication and pathogenesis; discover effective treatments; and develop prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.
Keywords: HTLV-1; Leukemia; Oncogene; Retrovirus; Vaccine.
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