Monday, January 24, 2022

Epstein-Barr virus could cause multiple sclerosis, Harvard study shows

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Epstein-Barr virus, a common herpes virus infection, can cause multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, was conducted by a team from Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health. The researchers studied more than 10 million young people serving in the military and identified 955 people who were diagnosed with MS during their service.

The team analyzed samples taken from military personnel each year to determine if they had Epstein-Barr virus and the relationship between infection and the onset of MS.

Among those studied in the study, the risk of developing MS increased 32-fold after being infected with Epstein-Barr virus.

According to Harvard University, the team also found that the level of “biomarker of MS-specific nerve degeneration” only increased after people had Epstein-Barr virus infection.

“The hypothesis that (Epstein-Barr virus) causes MS has been studied by our group and others for several years, but this is the first study to provide convincing evidence of causality,” said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School and a major author of the study, the report said.

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According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, when a person has MS, their immune system attacks the central nervous system. The disease can disrupt the flow of information in the brain and body and cause permanent damage.

MS can be detected at any age, but its onset usually occurs between the ages of 20 and 40 years. According to the Mayo Clinic, if a person’s parent or brother has the disease, they are also at higher risk of developing it.

Epstein-Barr virus is one of the most common human viruses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is mainly spread through body fluids such as saliva and can lead to an infectious mononucleosis called mononucleosis.

The Harvard team explained that the Epstein-Barr virus was “one of the top suspects” because researchers were looking for the cause of MS. However, they noted that it was difficult to link the virus and MS because the virus “infects about 95 percent of adults,” and MS is “a relatively rare disease, and the onset of MS symptoms (Epstein-Barr virus) takes about a decade. It will start later. ”

In a press release, Ascherio said the study was a “big step” because it “shows that most cases of MS (Epstein-Barr virus) can be prevented by stopping the infection, and that targeting (Epstein-Barr virus) can lead to discovery. A cure for MS. ”

“Currently, there is no way to effectively prevent or treat (Epstein-Barr virus) infection, but targeting a vaccine (Epstein-Barr virus) or antiviral drugs specific to the virus (Epstein-Barr virus) is the end result. -results can prevent or treat MS, ”he said.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, the National Institutes of Health, the National Society of Multiple Sclerosis, the German Research Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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