Friday, April 14, 2006

Epstein-Barr Virus May Trigger multiple sclerosis

Count down to my appointment with the neurologist begins in earnest now....just 13 days to go. I am still concerned that I may have multiple sclerosis - my symptoms certainly fit the relapsing remitting type but I have to hope that a diagnosis will lead to improved treatment..

Epstein-Barr Virus May Trigger MS: "Young adults with high levels of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus appear to be at increased risk for developing multiple sclerosis later in life, new research suggests.

The findings add to the evidence implicating the common virus as a possible trigger for multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease of the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves)...Researchers have searched for decades for a viral or bacterial agent that may trigger multiple sclerosis in people who are genetically susceptible. Epidemiology professor Alberto Ascherio, MD, and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston have published several studies suggesting that Epstein-Barr virus may be that agent.

"Collectively, the results of this and the previous studies provide compelling evidence that infection with EBV is a risk factor in the development of MS...

it is widely accepted that environmental factors, specifically infections, trigger MS in people who are genetically vulnerable to the disease. But he adds that it is more likely that multiple triggers come into play.

"When we finally understand everything about MS, it may not be a single virus or other infectious agent that is the trigger," he says. "It may well be that different agents act as triggers in different people."

He notes that people with MS tend to generate higher immune responses to many different viruses, including those that cause mumps, German measles, and herpes...

SOURCES: DeLorenze, G.N., Archives of Neurology, April 10, 2006, vol 63: online edition. Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPH, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston. John Richert, MD, vice president of research and clinical programs, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. National Multiple Sclerosis Society website: "Just the Facts: 2005-2006."

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