A new analysis of data from US military recruits suggests that multiple sclerosis (MS), considered to be of unknown cause, is a complication of Epstein-Barr virus infection (VEB), known as kissing disease, as published by researchers in the journal Science.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. The underlying cause of this disease is not known, but the Epstein-Barr virus is believed to be a possible culprit. However, most people infected with this common virus do not develop multiple sclerosis and the causality of this disease in humans cannot be directly demonstrated.
From the data of more than ten million United States military recruits Controlled over a period of 20 years, 955 of which were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during their service, Harvard University researcher Kjetil Bjornevik and his team tested the hypothesis that the disease is caused by EBV.
They found that the risk of developing multiple sclerosis in individuals who were negative for the Epstein-Barr virus multiplied by 32 after infection. “These results,” say the authors, “cannot be explained by any known risk factor.”
They point out that one of the most effective treatments for multiple sclerosis are the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies and that targeting the Epstein-Barr virus directly could have great advantages compared to anti-CD20-based therapies, which have to be administered by intravenous infusion and can increase the risk of infections.