Epstein-Barr virus may be leading cause of multiple sclerosis - HSPH News
Jan 13, 2022 1 min, 4 secs

Boston, MA – Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), according to a study led by Harvard T.H.

Chan School of Public Health researchers.

Establishing a causal relationship between the virus and the disease has been difficult because EBV infects approximately 95% of adults, MS is a relatively rare disease, and the onset of MS symptoms begins about 10 years after EBV infection.

Ascherio says that the delay between EBV infection and the onset of MS may be partially due to the disease’s symptoms being undetected during the earliest stages and partially due to the evolving relationship between EBV and the host’s immune system, which is repeatedly stimulated whenever latent virus reactivates.

Other Harvard Chan School researchers who contributed to this study include Kjetil Bjornevik, Marianna Cortese, Michael Mina, and Kassandra Munger.

Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere

Each year, more than 400 faculty members at Harvard Chan School teach 1,000-plus full-time students from around the world and train thousands more through online and executive education courses


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