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Viral infections of the central nervous system

Research group
Active research
Project owner
Institute of Biomedicine

Short description

We study brain infections caused by viruses i.e mainly tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and different herpes virus infections. Our overall aim is to diminish the negative effects on the brain after the infections. Patients are included in clinical studies. We describe the burden of the infections in the brain, improve recognition by evaluation of new microbiological methods, study biological markers of severe disease and perform treatment and follow-up studies.

We study viral infections of the central nervous system (CNS) in children and adults mainly varicella zoster virus (VZV), herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) meningitis, tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and since 2020 also neurological aspects of covid-19. The national burden of different CNS infections are studied. 

The research focuses on improving diagnosis with quantitative PCR, intrathecal antibodies and in encephalitis of unknown origin we use next generation sequencing (NGS). We perform long-term follow-up studies with neuroimaging and neurological and cognitive assessments to enable correlation between outcome and biochemical markers in cerebrospinal fluid and blood which may be potentially prognostic. Treatment studies have been performed in HSE and HSV-2 meningitis and future studies are planned.

The main aims are to improve diagnostics in viral CNS infections in cooperation with the Microbiology Department and to find prognostic biomarkers to be used in future treatment studies. The neurological symptoms and signs in covid-19 are explored. Together with neuropsychologists we develop specific assessments for different CNS infections and rehabilitation programs in order to diminish neurological sequels. Finally, we study genetic predisposition in CNS herpes virus infections.  

On-going studies
•    Prognostic biomarkers and neuroimaging in relation to neurological and neuropsychological outcome in viral CNS infections
•    Sleep disturbances and fatigue in TBE
•    The national burden of TBE
•    The long-term sequels after HSE
•    Evaluation of CNS diagnostics with Film-array 
•    Genetic predisposition in herpes CNS infections 
•    The value of NGS diagnostics in unknown CNS infections
•    The impact of SARS- CoV2 (covid-19) on CNS
•    Meningoencephalitis After Tick-Bite (MEATB-study) 
 

Group members

Anna Grahn, M.D, Ph.D
Malin Veje, M.D, Ph.D student
Johan Lindström, M.D, Ph.D student
Erika Stentoft, M.D, Ph.D student
Tobias Tyrberg, M.D, Ph.D student