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Link between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis is a crucial discovery for people living with MS

MS is a highly contagious disease in which the components of the immune system begin to damage the brain and spinal cord. Credit: Shutterstock

Canada is one of them higher rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide, with 250 out of every 100,000 people affected.

MS is an autoimmune disease in which parts of the immune system are designed to protect us –white blood cells and antibodies – instead begin to damage the brain and spine. This results in acute attacks — also known as relapses — of neurologic dysfunction such as vision loss, difficulty walking or urinating and sexual dysfunction.

Environmental problems

But what causes MS? The answer is complex. MS is caused by a combination of factors including infection with the virus (born with the genes that cause MS), a weakened immune system that attacks rather than protects and infects the environment.

In the a research published in the journal Scienceresearchers found that Epstein Barr virus (EBV) – the virus that causes it mononucleosis– and creates an environment for MS. EBV is common, with more than 95 percent of people infected during their lifetime.

In this study, researchers examined the blood of a large group of adults and continued to monitor their health for 20 years. The results showed that 34 out of 35 people with MS, who initially tested positive for the disease EBV, tested for viral quality before being diagnosed with MS. This is in contrast to 57 percent of controls (those without MS) who tested positive for EBV.

This does not mean that if you have Epstein-Barr disease you will not get MS. However, the study found that the new EBV infection in adults increased the risk of developing MS by 32 times. The risk of developing MS for others was not observed. diseases of the photo or video circulating rapidly.

  • The association between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis is an important finding for people living with MS

    Multiple sclerosis causes damage to the myelin sheath which protects the nerves in the brain and spine. Credit: Stephanie021299, CC BY-SA

  • The association between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis is an important finding for people living with MS

    Studies show Epstein Barr is a highly contagious disease that causes multiple sclerosis. Credit: Shutterstock

Identify the major risk factors

This paper describes the greatest risk of MS identified to date. Importantly, the study did not look at children or adolescents, so it is not known if mononucleosis before age 18 increases the risk of MS.

Evidence that EBV infection puts someone at high risk for developing MS is a major finding. It means researchers could begin to develop antiretroviral drugs for MS, such as vaccines and antiviral drugs, such as those that provide protection against the SARS-CoV2-virus that causes COVID-19.

The association between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis is an important finding for people living with MS

Multiple sclerosis is caused by a combination of factors including a weakened immune system, a weakened immune system that attacks rather than a defense, and an environmental factor. Credit: Michael C. Levin, Author

Other studies they show saying EBV infection in people already diagnosed with MS it can change the immune system from one that protects them to infections to one that attacks the brain and spine. This is another immune response which is unique to EBV. This suggests that even in people with MS, they are focusing on treatments designed to prevent EBV from changing. immune system would be a new strategy to prevent further development.

Finding a link between EBV and risk for MS is an important area of ​​MS treatment, opening up new treatment options for people suffering from this condition.


Studies: Strong evidence linking the disease to multiple sclerosis


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