Study touts Epstein-Barr virus as possible cause of multiple sclerosis

Experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have touted the potential cause of the chronic inflammatory disease multiple sclerosis, citing the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in their latest published work in the journal Science.

The findings stemmed from a longitudinal analysis which unveiled a high prevalence of the Epstein-Barr virus among patients diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

According to the study’s authors: “We tested the hypothesis that MS is caused by EBV in a cohort comprising more than 10 million young adults on active duty in the US military, 955 of whom were diagnosed with MS during their period of service.”

“Risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV but was not increased after infection with other viruses, including the similarly transmitted cytomegalovirus,” the authors followed by stating in their journal report.

The military-based study led to the examination of serum samples taken biennially, determining that the results they established cannot be explained away by any known risk factor associated with multiple sclerosis, but rather may be connected to EBV.

“Currently there is no way to effectively prevent or treat EBV infection, but an EBV vaccine or targeting the virus with EBV-specific antiviral drugs could ultimately prevent or cure MS,” suggested a co-author of the study in a news release.

“These findings cannot be explained by any known risk factor for MS and suggest EBV as the leading cause of MS.”

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