Discovery of a link with a virus gives hope for a better response

The recent discovery of a link between multiple sclerosis and the Epstein-Barr virus gives hope for a better response to the disease in the long term, underlined multiple sclerosis experts Monday before the disease’s World Day, Monday.

Treatment, which aims to stop inflammation, “has progressed a lot in the past ten years”, and patient follow-up is “more individualized”, said AFP neurologist Jean Pelletier from the French Foundation Arcep (Ed Multiple Sclerosis Research).

And, he believes, a particularly important discovery made in January by US researchers could lead to new advances: The Epstein-Barr virus is essential for the development of multiple sclerosis, regardless of whether everyone infected with the disease. do not develop.

It is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). This causes disruption of the immune system, which attacks myelin, the protective sheath of nerve fibers.

Most often, this causes inflammatory flare-ups along with calming phases.

The disease varies greatly from patient to patient, but it can lead to sequelae and is one of the frequent causes of disability in young adults.

It is estimated that more than 2.8 million people are affected by this autoimmune disease worldwide, including about 110,000 in France. Cases are rare in children and adolescents, but the disease may have started long before the diagnosis was made.

The discovery of a link to the Epstein-Barr virus, which affects 95% of adults and is the cause of other diseases such as mononucleosis, suggests that most cases of multiple sclerosis can be prevented by preventing infection with this pathogen.

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In addition to a better understanding of “what may be involved in this multifactorial disease,” the study “suggests that if we vaccinate children against Epstein-Barr we may prevent multiple sclerosis from relapsing, knowing that our There is currently no vaccine”, according to Professor Pelletier.

“This well-known Epstein-Barr virus, once contracted, is secreted into the B lymphocytes in our bodies, which themselves are involved in the inflammatory response associated with multiple sclerosis. This may explain, in particular, that B lymphocytes, monoclonal Some treatments targeting antibodies have an extremely significant effectiveness against multiple sclerosis”, he adds.

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