New evidence suggests Epstein-Barr virus triggers Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers have found evidence to suggest that the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes a number of diseases including mononucleosis, could also trigger multiple sclerosis (MS).

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease where a person’s immune system attacks the fibers and myelin sheath around the brain and spinal cord. It is estimated that about 1 million people in the United States have the disease, according to the most recent data from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Some people with MS may develop only mild symptoms of the disease, while others may lose the ability to walk or speak. What triggers the body’s immune system to attack has left scientists puzzled.


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According to a study published in Science.

“The hypothesis that EBV causes MS has been studied by our group and others for several years, but this is the first study to provide convincing evidence of causation,” said the lead author of the study Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School. , in a report. “This is a big step forward as it suggests that most cases of MS could be prevented by stopping EBV infection, and that targeting EBV could lead to the discovery of a cure. against MS.

In order to reach this conclusion, the researchers conducted a study of more than 10 million active duty adults in the US military and found 955 who had been diagnosed with MS while in service.

The team analyzed serum samples from the military to determine if each soldier had been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, which is present in about 95% of all adults, then compared those results to the question whether they had been diagnosed with MS during their time on active duty.

The researchers found that the risk of MS increased 32-fold if a soldier had been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus and remained unchanged if they had been infected with another virus.

Additionally, biomarkers of the nerve degeneration that occurs in MS increased in soldiers who had been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus, leading researchers to believe that the virus was the main cause of the disease. SEP.

“Currently, there is no way to effectively prevent or treat EBV infection, but an EBV vaccine or targeting the virus with EBV-specific antiviral drugs could ultimately prevent or cure MS. “, said Ascherio.


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