There is further evidence that one of the most common viruses in the world may set people on the path to the development of multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis is a potentially damaging disease that occurs when immune system cells mistakenly attack the protective coatings of nerve fibers and gradually erode them.
Epstein-Barr virus has long been suspected of being involved in the development of MS. This is a difficult connection to prove, as almost everyone is usually infected with Epstein-Barr as a child or young adult, but only a few develop MS.
On Thursday, researchers at Harvard University reported one of the greatest studies supporting Epstein-Barr theory.
They tracked blood samples stored from more than 10 million U.S. military personnel and found that the risk of MS increased 32-fold after Epstein-Barr infection.
The military regularly performed blood tests on its members, and researchers searched for antibodies that showed viral infection and checked samples stored from 1993 to 2013.
Only 5.3% of recruits showed no signs of Epstein-Barr when they joined the army. The researchers compared 801 MS cases diagnosed over the next 20 years with 1,566 service members who had never obtained MS.
Only one MS patient had no evidence of Epstein-Barr virus prior to MS diagnosis. And, despite a thorough investigation, researchers found no evidence that other viral infections played a role.
The findings “strongly suggest” that Epstein-Barr infection is “the cause, not the result of MS,” said Dr. Alberto Asherio, a research author at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues in the journal. Reported in Chemistry..
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, it’s clear that it’s not the only factor, given that about 90% of adults have antibodies that indicate they have Epstein-Barr.
The virus seems to be the “first trigger”, Dr. William H. Robinson and Lawrence Steinman of Stanford University wrote in an editorial accompanying Thursday’s study. But they warned that “additional fuses need to be ignited,” including genes that could make people more vulnerable.
Epstein-Barr is best known to cause “mononucleosis” or infectious mononucleosis in teens and young adults, but it often occurs asymptomatic. It is a virus that remains inactive in the body after the initial infection and is also associated with the development of several subsequent autoimmune disorders and rare cancers.
The reason is not clear. Among the possibilities is the so-called “molecular mimicry”. This means that viral proteins are so similar to some nervous system proteins that they can trigger false immune attacks.
Anyway, the new study is “the strongest evidence ever that Epstein-Barr contributes to the cause of MS,” said Mark Allegretta, vice president of research at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
He added, “Opening the door to potentially prevent MS by preventing Epstein-Barr infection.”
Moderna Inc, the best known COVID-19 vaccine. Attempts are underway to develop the Epstein-Barr vaccine, including a small study that has just begun.
More Evidence Linkes Viruses to Multiple Sclerosis, Research Results
Source link More Evidence Linkes Viruses to Multiple Sclerosis, Research Results