Acute Flaccid Myelitis Research

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is alarming for four key reasons: 90% of cases have been in children; there is no known treatment or vaccine; cases spike every other year around August to October; and, while deaths have been rare, about one-third of children have significant long-term or permanent disability, including the inability to walk, talk, or breathe independently.

To study the virus, explain its transmission, and discover its means of causing disease would be the key steps in formulating preventive or therapeutic options for testing and would shed light on the best treatments for children who might become infected. A team of UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) and University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) researchers is prepared to begin work as early as July 1, 2020, and has planned an aggressive timeline to develop a candidate vaccine or therapeutic by the summer of 2023,the year preceding the expected 2024 case spike. CHP and Pitt serve as an ideal environment for AFM candidate vaccine development due to our experience in treating AFM patients, our geographically far-reaching patient population in the Western PA/Ohio/West Virginia area, and the presence of world-leading experts on the suspected enteroviruses (including EV-D68), immunology, and infectious diseases. AFM is a particular concern in our region because in 2018 Western PA experienced a disproportionate number of cases.


Watch the full local news story report here: WTAE Video

This research is supported by i4Kids and funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.