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‘Kissing virus’ is a likely cause of MS

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The origins of multiple sclerosis (MS) have always been a mystery—but some scientists reckon it could be triggered by the Epstein-Barr virus, more commonly known as the ‘kissing virus’.

It opens the door to a MS cure, and even stopping the disease’s spread once an EBV infection has happened, say researchers from Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.

EBV is a herpes virus that infects up to 95 percent of adults—and yet MS is a rare disease, which suggests there must be a further biological process that makes some people more vulnerable.

MS symptoms usually start manifesting around 10 years after an EBV infection.

The researchers have been working on the hypothesis for several years and say they have now come close to establishing EBV infection as a cause after they had tracked the health of more than 10 million young adults on active service with the US military.  

Of these, 955 were diagnosed with MS, and after checking for signs of EBV infection, the researchers estimate the virus increases the risk 32 times.   Other viruses didn’t have the same impact.

The only problem now is that there isn’t a treatment for EBV infection.

(Source: Science, 2022; doi: 10.1126/science.abj8222) 

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Article Topics: infection, virus
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