Exhausting disease multiple sclerosis scientists claim it could be caused by the common virus behind “kissing disease”.
A new study from Harvard University suggests that chronic disease may be due to infection with Epstein-Barr, the herpes virus that causes infectious mononucleosis.
Mono or glandular fever, as it is otherwise known, is colloquially known as the “kissing disease” because it is highly contagious through saliva.
While it causes fatigue, fever, rash, and swollen glands, researchers suggest that the Epstein-Barr virus could also establish a latent, lifelong infection that could be a major cause of multiple sclerosis.
As it affects 2.8 million people, there is no known cure for chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system.
Research published in the journal science on Thursday, 955 young adults were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during active service in the military.
Compared to samples of 10 million military personnel, the risk was identified MRS increased 32-fold after Epstein-Barr virus infection. No other virus increased the risk of MS.
“The hypothesis that EBV causes MS has been investigated by our group and others for several years, but this is the first study to provide convincing evidence of causality,” said senior study author Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School. he said in a press release.
“This is a big step because it shows that most cases of MS could be prevented by stopping EBV infection and that targeting EBV could lead to the discovery of a cure for MS.”
Stopping Epstein-Barr can be difficult, as about 95 percent of adults are infected with the herpes virus.
Mr Ascherio says the delay between virus infection and the development of MS symptoms may be due to repeated stimulation of the immune system when the latent virus is reactivated.
The disease causes the immune system to attack neurons in the brain and spinal cord, which can permanently damage the central nervous system. In severe cases, people may lose the ability to walk.
“Currently, there is no way to effectively prevent or treat EBV infection, but EBV vaccine or virus targeting with EBV-specific antiviral drugs could ultimately prevent or cure MS,” Mr Ascherio said.