Epstein-Barr Virus May Cause Multiple Sclerosis
According to a new study published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers on January 13, 2022, multiple sclerosis (MS) is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
EBV is a herpesvirus family member that exclusively infects humans, usually via oral transmission. Infections generally occur in early adulthood often result in infectious mononucleosis (IM).
"... this is the first study providing compelling evidence of causality," said Alberto Ascherio, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study.
"This is a big step because it suggests that most MS cases could be prevented by stopping EBV infection and that targeting EBV could lead to the discovery of a cure for MS."
As of January 14, 2022, the U.S. FDA had not authorized an EBV vaccine.
However, Moderna Inc. announced in early January 2022, its mRNA vaccine candidate mRNA-1189 is primarily targeting EBV infection. mRNA-1189 is being developed to prevent EBV-induced IM and potentially EBV infection.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, stated in a press release, "The start of this Phase 1 study is a significant milestone as we continue to advance mRNA vaccines against latent viruses, which remain in the body for life after infection and can lead to chronic medical conditions."
"Moderna is committed to developing a portfolio of first-in-class vaccines against latent viruses for which there are no approved vaccines today, including vaccines against CMV, EBV, and HIV."
"We believe these vaccines could have a profound impact on quality of health for hundreds of millions of people around the world."
EBV is also associated with other malignancies, including gastric carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and Burkitt lymphoma.
Other Harvard Chan School researchers contributed to this study, including Kjetil Bjornevik, Marianna Cortese, Michael Mina, and Kassandra Munger.
Funding for this study came from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the German Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. No industry conflicts of interest were disclosed.
For more information, contact Nicole Rura: [email protected].