(Washington) Multiple sclerosis can be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, according to a new study by American researchers who first identified the cause of this autoimmune disease.
Posted 6:15 pm
This discovery raises the hope of a possible development of a future treatment that will be able to cure this disease that affects approximately 2.8 million people worldwide.
About 95% of all adults are infected with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which can cause other illnesses, such as mononucleosis.
The study was published this week in the prestigious journal Science, Although not all infected individuals develop the disease, showing that the virus is essential for the development of multiple sclerosis.
The hypothesis has been studied for many years, but it is difficult to prove, especially since the virus is so common, and the symptoms of the disease begin only ten years after infection.
Professor Alberto Ascherio, lead author and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said: “This is the first study to provide credible evidence for the cause.
“This is a very important step, indicating that most cases of multiple sclerosis can be prevented by stopping Epstein-Barr virus infection,” he said in a statement. “Targeting this virus may lead to the discovery of a cure.”
Researchers have found that more than 10 million young people enlisted in the American Army over 20 years, 955 of whom suffered multiple sclerosis in their service.
According to this work, the risk of contracting multiple sclerosis increased 32-fold after infection with Epstein-Barr virus, but did not change after infection with other viruses.
According to researchers at Stanford University who published a commentary on the study in the journal Science, Other factors, for example genetic, may play a role in the development or non-development of the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It causes disruption of the immune system, which attacks the myelin sheath, a cell used to protect nerve fibers.
Evolved by “attacks”, the disease varies greatly from one patient to another, but it can lead to sequelae and is one of the most frequent causes of disability in adolescents.
The American company Modernna announced last week that it has launched clinical trials on humans to vaccinate against the Epstein-Barr virus.