A nucleic acid hybridization assay was developed as a sensitive assay for the presence of poliovirus RNA in human tissue. The assay could detect the presence of an average of one poliovirus per 200 cells. A method for determining the extent of degradtion of the tissue RNA was developed and used to show that a significant fraction of human central nervous system (CNS) autopsy material contains highly degraded RNA which is unsuitable for hybridization studies. A total of 15 different control and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis tissues were assayed for the presence of poliovirus-like RNA. Virus RNA was detected in one of the control tissues and in none of the ALS tissues.
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