Herpes Virus Infection Most Likely to Be the Main Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

Recent studies reveal a link between herpes virus infection and multiple sclerosis.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — A new study shows that the virus that causes herpes, known as the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), is a major cause of multiple sclerosis. This disease also made actress Selma Blair appear using a cane while attending the Oscars at the Dolby Theater, Los Angeles, California, United States, in 2019.

Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found that EBV as one of the most common viruses in the world increases the potency of multiple sclerosis up to 32 times. Previously, a number of scientists had speculated that the Epstein-Barr virus was linked to the condition.

“This is the first study to provide strong evidence of causality,” said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and senior author of the study. The Irish Independent, Friday (14/1/2022).

Ascherio said the new study was a big step because it showed that most cases of MS could be prevented by stopping EBV infection. He said that researchers targeting EBV could lead to drug discovery for MS.

The study studied the medical records of more than 10 million people enlisted in the US military, 955 of whom developed multiple sclerosis during their service. Blood samples taken twice a year by the military are analyzed by researchers to determine if a person has EBV.

From there, it was seen that a protein and biomarker for neurodegeneration called NfL only increased in people who had been infected with the Epstein-Barr virus. There is currently no cure available for multiple sclerosis, which is a relatively rare condition.

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