Identification of the virus that causes multiple sclerosis offers hope for a cure

It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects about 130,000 people in France. multiple sclerose Most likely caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, according to a new study by US researchers, who first identified a person responsible for this autoimmune disease. This discovery raises hopes that in the future a treatment could be developed that would make it possible to treat this disease that affects approximately 2.8 million people in the world.

About 95% of adults are infected Epstein Barr-virus (EBV), which can also cause other diseases, such as mononucleosis. The study, published this week in the prestigious journal Science, shows that this virus is essential for the development of multiple sclerosis, even though not everyone infected with the disease gets the disease.

The hypothesis has been studied for several years, but it is difficult to prove, especially since this virus is very common and the symptoms of the disease do not start until about ten years after infection. It is “the first study to provide convincing evidence of causation,” said Alberto Acchirio, lead author and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“This is an important step because it indicates that most cases of multiple sclerosis can be prevented by stopping infection with the Epstein-Barr virus,” he added in a statement. Targeting this virus can lead to a cure. »

Over the course of 20 years, researchers tracked more than 10 million young men who had enlisted in the United States military, 955 of whom were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during their military service. According to this work, the risk of developing multiple sclerosis increased 32-fold after infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, but remained unchanged after infection with other viruses.

According to researchers at Stanford University, who published a commentary on the study in the journal Science, other factors, such as genetics, may play a role in whether or not the disease develops. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It causes a malfunction in the immune system that attacks myelin, the sheath used to protect nerve fibers.

The disease progresses via ‘attacks’, varies greatly from patient to patient, but can have consequences and is a common cause of disability in young people. The American company Moderna announced last week that it has started human clinical trials of a vaccine against the Epstein-Barr virus. this is the last It also causes white blood cell counts.

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