Study Shows Herpes-Related Virus May Cause Multiple Sclerosis
A recent study finds that the Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is likely what causes multiple sclerosis.
MS is a progressive disease that affects the central nervous system of 2.8 million people worldwide, but for a long time its etiology has been unknown.
To better understand what causes MS, a team of researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health examined more than 10 million young adults on active duty in the U.S. military, 955 of whom were diagnosed with MS during their period of service.
By analyzing serum samples that were taken by the military, the research team was able to determine if a soldier had EBV at the time of the first sample.
Their findings showed that the risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV, but was unchanged after infection with other viruses, suggesting that EBV is the leading cause of MS.
The researchers also noted that the delay between EBV infection and the onset of MS may be partially due to the disease’s symptoms being undetected during its earliest stages. Researchers believe that the study might open the possibility of an EBV vaccine or help target the virus with EBV-specific antiviral drugs to prevent or cure MS.
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