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Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and High-Grade Glioma

Does Cytomegalovirus Play a Role in Patients with Glioblastomas?

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common virus that affects people of all ages.  It can cause severe disease in patients with a weakened immune system. Patients with brain cancers called high-grade gliomas experience weakened immune systems as a result of therapies like radiation, chemotherapy and high-dose steroids used to treat their cancer.

Leukemia and other cancer patients are routinely screened and treated for CMV, and sometimes given medications to prevent infection with the virus.  New studies suggest that CMV may play a role in glioblastomas, a type of high-grade glioma, but there is no definitive proof of the virus’ harm or benefit to patients’ survival.

Research Will Yield Better Clues

Johns Hopkins scientists are conducting research to measure the blood levels of CMV in high-grade glioma patients currently receiving standard therapies.  They will analyze whether blood levels of CMV during standard therapy correlate with changes in blood counts, an indicator of a therapy’s success or failure.

Ultimately, the Johns Hopkins investigators hope to determine whether high-grade glioma patients should be routinely screened for CMV and if antiviral medications or treatment may have an impact on outcomes.

Johns Hopkins’ Expertise in Research

The CMV study is being conducted by neuro-oncologist Dr. Matthias Holdhoff, who specializes in studying weakened immune systems in patients with glioma, and infectious disease and CMV expert Dr. Ravit Boger.

How Can You Help?

Support the work of the Brain Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins, by contacting Johns Hopkins development officer Megan Ward at (410)-361-6391 or through our online donation form.