Reducing the global burden of HTLV-1 infection: An agenda for research and action

Antiviral Res. 2017 Jan:137:41-48. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2016.10.015. Epub 2016 Nov 11.


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.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Global Health*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HTLV-I Infections* / drug therapy
  • HTLV-I Infections* / epidemiology
  • HTLV-I Infections* / prevention & control
  • HTLV-I Infections* / transmission
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell / virology
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / drug therapy
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / prevention & control
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / virology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / prevention & control
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / virology