This concerted action aims to
Standardise the diagnosis of HTLV-I and -II infections;
Monitor their prevalence in general and high risk populations;
Investigate the cause of 'indeterminate' western blot patterns;
Study patients with HTLV/HIV coinfections to determine whether these viruses cause disease other than that associated with HIV infection now that anti-retroviral therapies significantly improve the disease-free time for HIV positive patients;
Register all patients with HTLV-associated disease to determine their incidence in Europe;
Support basic scientific research in HTLV-I/II pathogenesis by exchange of clinical materials and reagents and by regular workshops to encourage collaborative studies;
Co-ordinate genotypic studies of HTLV-I and -II to determine their origin, spread and evolution in Europe particularly as they spread rapidly in some populations.
This project, a concerted action with 15 partners in 11 European countries, is based upon a much larger network, the HTLV European Research Network, the product of an earlier Biomed programme. The various aspects of the project will progress in parallel through a number of working groups. Thus to describe the Epidemiology of HTLVs in Europe a working group will first establish European reference serology and DNA panels. Quality control in participating laboratories by blinded testing of reference panels and by exchange of sera, DNA and reagents. A workshop will be organised to review the current published criteria for serodiagnosis and to agree consensus criteria for the molecular diagnosis of HTLV-I/II infection. Trends in the seroprevalence of HTLV-I and -II infection in Europe will be reviewed annually by a workshop which will include representatives from all EC member states with recent or on-going HTLV seroprevalence surveys/screening programmes. Confirmed indeterminate sera and cells will be distributed anonymously to the study participants for further investigation by HTLV-I and HTLV-II RIPA, STLV peptide assays and HTLV/STLV generic and specific PCR. For effective Clinical Epidemiology of rare diseases and to study the natural history of the infections the project will co-ordinate multicentre standardised prospective studies of asymptomatic infected subjects as well as co-ordinate the ATLL therapy and HAM therapy studies. To support Basic Science Studies the collection, storage and exchange of fresh clinical material, is an essential component of the programme. Regular pathogenesis workshops will be held to develop collaborative studies, and provide a suitable forum for the presentation of research in progress. Of particular importance in Molecular Epidemiology will be Molecular Clock studies of HTLV-II amongst European IDUs.
Human T-cell Leukaemia Virus type-I and type II, HTLV-I/II, epidemiology, European, seroprevalence, Adult T-cell Leukaemia/Lymphoma (ATLL), HTLV-I associated myelopathy (HAM/TSP), therapy, molecular epidemiology, serology, virology, immunology, pathogenesis