Link between Epstein-Barr virus and multiple sclerosis is a crucial discovery

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EBV infection in people already diagnosed with MS can change their immune system from one that protects them from disease to one that attacks the brain and spinal cord. Photo: Pexels


(Michael S. Levin/ The Conversation) — Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the world, with 250 out of every 100,000 people affected.

MS is an autoimmune disease in which elements of the immune system that are designed to protect us — white blood cells and antibodies — instead begin to damage the brain and spinal cord. This causes acute attacks — also known as relapses — of neurologic dysfunction such as visual loss, trouble walking or urinary and sexual dysfunction.

But what causes MS? The answer is complex. MS is caused by a combination of factors including genetic susceptibility to the disease (being born with genes that cause MS), an abnormal immune system that attacks instead of protects and an environmental trigger. (…)

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