Epstein-Barr virus likely to cause multiple sclerosis, study finds

The discovery raises hope for the potential development of future treatments, which could lead to a cure for a disease affecting approximately 2.8 million people worldwide.

Multiple sclerosis is most likely caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, according to a new study by US researchers who have identified the culprit of this autoimmune disease for the first time.

The discovery raises hope for the potential development of future treatments, which could lead to a cure for a disease affecting approximately 2.8 million people worldwide.

About 95% of all adults are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can also cause other diseases such as mononucleosis.

The study, published this week in the journal Science, indicating that this virus is essential for the development of multiple sclerosis, even if not all infected people have the disease.

“Targeting this virus could lead to the discovery of a cure”

The hypothesis was studied for many years, but it was difficult to prove, especially because this virus is so common, and symptoms of the disease begin only about ten years after infection. “This is the first study that provides compelling evidence of causation,” said lead author and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, Alberto Escherio.

“This is an important step, as it suggests that most cases of multiple sclerosis are preventable by preventing infection with the Epstein-Barr virus,” he quoted in a statement. “Targeting this virus could lead to the discovery of a cure.”

Researchers enlisted more than 10 million young adults in the US military for 20 years, 955 of whom were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during their service.

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According to this work, the risk of contracting multiple sclerosis increased by 32 times after being infected with Epstein-Barr virus, but remained unchanged after infection with other viruses.

highly variable disease from patient to patient

According to researchers at Stanford University, who published a commentary on the study in the journal ScienceOther factors, for example genetics, may play a role in whether or not the disease develops.

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). This causes a disruption of the immune system, which attacks myelin, the sheath used to protect nerve fibers.

Developed by “attacks”, the disease is highly variable from patient to patient, but can lead to sequelae, and is one of the frequent causes of disability in young adults.

US company Moderna announced last week that it has started clinical trials on humans of a vaccine against the Epstein-Barr virus.

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