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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 16, @08:02PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the one-day-we-will-have-a-cure-for-it... dept.

A very common virus may be the trigger for multiple sclerosis:

Evidence is mounting that a garden-variety virus that sometimes causes mono in teens is the underlying cause of multiple sclerosis, a rare neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, stripping away protective insulation around nerve cells, called myelin.

It's still unclear how exactly the virus—the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)—may trigger MS and why MS develops in a tiny fraction of people. About 95 percent of adults have been infected with EBV, which often strikes in childhood. MS, meanwhile, often develops between the ages of 20 and 40 and is estimated to affect around one million people in the US. Yet, years of evidence have consistently pointed to links between the childhood virus and the chronic demyelinating disease later in life.

With a study published today in Science, the link is stronger than ever, and outside experts say the new findings offer further "compelling" evidence that EBV isn't just connected to MS; it's an essential trigger for the disease. The study found, among other things, that people had a 32-fold increase in risk of developing MS following an EBV infection in early adulthood.

"It's a great paper," Dr. Ruth Dobson, a preventive neurology professor and MS expert at Queen Mary University of London, told Ars in an interview. "The evidence just adds up and adds up and adds up... Whilst we don't understand biologically how EBV drives MS and we think about causation theories, really we have the rest of the building blocks in place," said Dobson, who was not involved in the new Science study. "It's another piece of evidence that really solidifies this theory" that EBV triggers MS.

[...] For the study, researchers led by Harvard neuroepidemiologist Dr. Kjetil Bjornevik mined an exceptionally rich repository of blood serum samples taken from a cohort of more than 10 million active-duty military personnel between 1993 and 2013.

[...] In the cohort, there were 801 members who developed MS and had banked up to three serum samples prior to their diagnosis. This gave the researchers the unique opportunity to go back in time and examine serum samples from MS patients years before they developed the disease. The researchers could also compare samples from the 801 MS patients to samples from 1,566 cohort members who did not develop MS and could serve as controls.

Of the 801 people who developed MS, all but one had antibodies indicating an EBV infection by the time of their MS diagnosis. And most of those EBV infections occurred earlier in their lives. At the start of the 20-year period, only 35 of the 801 MS patients started out as negative for EBV. By the end of the period, 34 of those 35 developed anti-EBV antibodies—aka seroconverted—prior to their diagnosis.

Journal Reference:
Kjetil Bjornevik, Marianna Cortese, Brian C. Healy, et al. Longitudinal analysis reveals high prevalence of Epstein-Barr virus associated with multiple sclerosis, Science (DOI: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abj8222)


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Sunday January 16, @08:17PM (15 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Sunday January 16, @08:17PM (#1213234) Journal

    This is good news; may it lead to an effective treatment soon.

    A friend of mine was the head of psychiatry at the New York City Asylum on Randall's Island, a position he attained at a relatively young age in his mid-40's. He had also begun a parallel career as a successful published author and was appearing on talk shows and such to promote his book. His career was bright and headed up like a rocket.

    Then he was diagnosed with MS. A year later he was walking with canes and shortly after that they put him into hospice.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @09:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @09:16PM (#1213251)

      For my relative, a brilliant EE who could both design circuits (analog & digital) and also write code, MS was much slower. He may have "caught it" (if in fact it is contagious?) in his mid-20s. Symptoms (loss of feeling in legs/arms, later, tremors, etc) started to appear in his early 30s. Wheel chair bound for the last couple of years and died at 40.

      Docs told us that this matched the "progressive" form of MS. On the way down, he was stable for months or years, then more symptoms appeared, then another period of stability (at lower functioning level), repeat. Sad deal all around, his parents were devastated by losing such a brilliant & successful kid.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mojibake Tengu on Sunday January 16, @09:22PM (2 children)

      by Mojibake Tengu (8598) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 16, @09:22PM (#1213253) Journal

      https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/islands-of-the-undesirables-randall-s-island-and-wards-island [atlasobscura.com]

      Considering documented historical background of the facility, sounds like a serious karma for a psychiatrist. Or fallout of a curse.
      Did this friend of yours offended some Goethic or Zothyrian deity?
      (I would not ask this question to another SN nick, you know yourself...)

      --
      The edge of 太玄 cannot be defined, for it is beyond every aspect of design
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Sunday January 16, @09:46PM (1 child)

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Sunday January 16, @09:46PM (#1213257) Journal

        Considering documented historical background of the facility, sounds like a serious karma for a psychiatrist. Or fallout of a curse.

        I had the same thought when I first met him. My notion of psychiatric hospitals approaches that in 12 Monkeys. But he was a true Tex-Mex, half Texan, half Mexican, and a very kind and gentle guy. Spiritual, too. It could be why the evil spirits of Randall's Island targeted him.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by Azuma Hazuki on Monday January 17, @03:37AM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @03:37AM (#1213313) Journal

          Sounds like they needed, and never got, a competent medium in there. Would have to be one with nerves of steel, too. There's not much that can be done from this end for the really vengeful suffering ones...

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @09:45PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @09:45PM (#1213256)

      It may or may not lead to effective treatment. But in the industry, there are already indications that the various EBV vaccine programs may have more money available soon and a study like this only helps. I don't mean to sound callous or dismissive but better than treating MS is making sure that nobody has to worry about it in the future.

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @04:48AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @04:48AM (#1213328)

        Jews have kept the medical industry stagnant (for example, 5-year cancer prognoses) since the '60's. Jews are attracted to medicine because it allows them to write their own paychecks while keeping people sick, as you can see from the vaccine fiascoes, and yet doesn't require physical labor. What the Affordable Care Act really did was stick a bunch of fat lazy Jews in newly-created and totally redundant administrator positions, to leech from the private system just as dead weight leeches from the public employment system.

        That's not including that the Jews are accelerating their plans to destroy America for Chinese profit. The more viruses they can manufacture and release, the more Goyim get sick and dependent on the system. Your lives will become rentals, where you die if you don't pay the monthly subscription. Jews, of course, get a front-of-the-line pass to all the harvested organs and baby blood, so no problem for them there.

        There is a good reason why the Jews are getting more and more desperate, and that is because Goyim are undergoing a mass-awakening as to the ramifications of Judeo-Communism and its ties to globalism. The cat's out of the bag, the toothpaste out of the tube -- and what we see are the messy results of Jewry trying to stuff the toothpaste back in the tube with censorship and their embedded crooks placed into power structures.

        • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:29PM (#1213464)
          Hail Victory! 14/88
    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17, @05:29AM (4 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17, @05:29AM (#1213332)

      What it will probably lead to first is a vaccine against Epstein-Barr, which, like HPV is doing for cervical cancer, could dramatically improve future MS rates.

      Does anyone else know "mono" as the short name for mononucleosis, the description of what bacterial cultures of the disease look like under a microscope? Epstein-Barr may result in similar symptoms, but viruses aren't visible under the common types of microscopes that gave mono its name.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @07:00AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @07:00AM (#1213349)

        Mononucleosis does not get its name from bacteria cultures. It gets its name from the increase in mononuclear reactive lymphocytes (Downey cells) caused by T lymphocytes responding to B lymphocytes infected by EBV or other viruses. Before we knew as much as we do now about the immune system, their discovery in smears would have been quite the surprise.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17, @01:58PM (2 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17, @01:58PM (#1213382)

          Color me informed. Back when pediatricians did their own swab cultures in office, I was told the other story: staff infections look like long staff structures on the culture, and mono shows as individual dots.

          --
          Україна не входить до складу Росії.
          • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Monday January 17, @03:24PM (1 child)

            by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @03:24PM (#1213392)
            What you were told is true. The dots are due to the presence of the lymphocytes (including the atypical lymphocytes that give the condition it's common name). With strep, they see the rod shaped bacteria.
            • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @11:20PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @11:20PM (#1213494)

              Strep is cause by gram-positive streptococci. Streptococcus look like chains (strep-) of spheres (coccus), hence the name. Actual rod-shaped bacteria would use the root bacillus. Scanning over slides, Strep looks like masses of chains of dotted-lines

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday January 17, @05:36AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday January 17, @05:36AM (#1213333)

      A neighbor, speech pathologist our age, in her early 40s at the time, had difficulty speaking one day - told us about it in a chance meeting on the neighborhood street. Six months later she was confined to a bed and shortly after that she was communicating using a nose tip tracker to control a computer mouse interface. She was dead in under two years from first symptoms. It wasn't called MS exactly, but it was a demyelination disease which could have the same root cause, just a different starting point in the body.

      --
      Україна не входить до складу Росії.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:27AM (#1213342)

      This interview of Dr. Terry Wahl regarding her recovery from MS might be useful for your friend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIurbDArpEU [youtube.com]

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday January 17, @08:04PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday January 17, @08:04PM (#1213457) Homepage Journal

      Back around the turn of the century in the Quake days when my Springfield Fragfest was popular there was a British fellow named Niel Harriot (whose real name might have been Janet) whose site Yello There was also popular. We became online friends. Niel died of MS shortly after the turn of the century. His was IMO one of the funniest sites on the web. No trace of it still remains, except one page on my hard drive. I wish I'd saved all his stuff.

      If any of you old Quake players wonder what happened to Yello There, Niel died of MS. He would have made a Microsoft joke out of it, but I don't think it's funny. Glad treatments, cures, or preventatives may be up the pike.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Sunday January 16, @09:10PM

    by crafoo (6639) on Sunday January 16, @09:10PM (#1213250)

    MS is a horrible disease. I watched a co-worker get hit with it. Despair was mostly what he commented on. He had some plans for life and that had all been trashed due to MS.

    This seems like great news. I hope they develop better treatments or even a cure soon. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Username on Monday January 17, @12:24AM (11 children)

    by Username (4557) on Monday January 17, @12:24AM (#1213282)

    Mono, the kissing disease, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. I just wonder what Epsein did to Barr to cause the disease. Huh.

    Anyway, 95% of people had EBV, over 95% of people don't have MS. I would think to have a causal relationship, you would need to get EBV and get MS within a month or two afterwards. Not 20 years. Unless it's one of those long term herpes type things where to comes back randomly over time.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MostCynical on Monday January 17, @12:53AM (1 child)

      by MostCynical (2589) on Monday January 17, @12:53AM (#1213285) Journal

      Asbestosis and mesothelioma may not show symptoms for 10, 20, or even 40 years after exposure.

      PFAS exposure may not show symptoms for months or even years

      Then there are Kuru, CjD, etc etc..

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:35AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:35AM (#1213308)

        Yep. In complex, error-correcting, networked systems like a human, slow damage will only manifest symptoms around the time cascading failures begin.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:57AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @02:57AM (#1213310)

      I don't know if you did this on purpose or not, but EBV is a herpes virus. So it literally could be one of those long term herpes type things where it comes back randomly over time.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Monday January 17, @03:27AM (4 children)

      by Reziac (2489) on Monday January 17, @03:27AM (#1213312) Homepage

      I am reminded that back when canine distemper was still common, research blamed that virus for MS.

      So... I'm thinkin' this time it's still more like an occasional correlation than an outright cause.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Monday January 17, @03:59AM (1 child)

        by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Monday January 17, @03:59AM (#1213321)

        https://xkcd.com/552/ [xkcd.com]

        But the scientists worked carefully to rule out confounding factors. Does MS cause susceptibility to viral infections before it's diagnosed? They checked whether CMV became more likely. It didn't.

        This is good careful work by people following the ideals of science and trying to disprove their hypothesis.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, @07:12PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, @07:12PM (#1213636)

          Time will tell. Will vaccinations against EBV substantially lower MS rates or will MS incidents remain about the same?

          I guess we'll just have to wait and see ...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:10AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:10AM (#1213337)

        There are a number of viruses that are suspected of contributing to MS. CDV is one of them. There is an interesting correlation between dogs in general and MS. However, many researchers now think that the CDV evidence is weak and probably present due to confounding variables.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @09:03AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @09:03AM (#1213362)

        I've heard there's a high correlation between pork consumption and MS.

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/perfect-health-diet/201202/is-pork-still-dangerous [psychologytoday.com]
        https://ur.booksc.eu/book/25546903/a55182 [booksc.eu]

        But maybe it's vitamin D or "processed meat" consumption?

    • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Monday January 17, @03:55AM

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Monday January 17, @03:55AM (#1213319)

      If there's no causality, you'd see the same fraction of people get MS among the EBV-negative. That is not happening.

      When there's a long duration from infection to side effect, that could be because EBV sticks around for life. We don't know, but other long-term resident viruses flare up occasionally after long intervals and there's nothing weird about the idea of EBV flaring up long after and the immune system mounting a mistaken reaction.

      Oh, there is an mRNA EBV vaccine in Phase I trials.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by DannyB on Monday January 17, @05:50PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @05:50PM (#1213430) Journal

      Mono, the kissing disease, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. I just wonder what Epsein did to Barr to cause the disease. Huh.

      Would it decrease incidence of the disease of kids would avoid kissing and find other other activities they could engage in? Like bike riding in the streets while playing video games, or other safer things.

      Please remember that there are two (2) kinds of MS. PLEASE try not to confuse them.
      1. An affliction suffered by millions which makes it difficult to perform even the simplest tasks.
      2. A medical condition.

      --
      Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday January 17, @08:09PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday January 17, @08:09PM (#1213460) Homepage Journal

      Almost nobody gets chicken pox any more since there are now vaccines, but anybody older than about fifty had it as a child. One in three people who had chicken pox will come up with shingles in their old age; my mom had it.

      This is very likely the exact same kind of thing, only instead of one in three it's one in ten or one in a hundred.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by janrinok on Monday January 17, @07:11AM (5 children)

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @07:11AM (#1213350) Journal

    I processed this story for publication, albeit for somewhat personal reasons. My wife died some months back from complications brought on by her MS, which she had been battling since 2002. Having seen the story on the front page I then had doubts about sharing my experiences with the community. but I have decided to do so.

    It is a terrible disease - like many other neurological problems - but in my wife's case she remained mentally alert and fully aware of the world around her until the very end - in the latter stages she was simply unable to take part in, or contribute to, that world. It affects not only the patient but all of those around her - family, friends, support staff, nurses and medical practitioners in varying degrees.

    To all of those who know someone with MS please take heart. There is still much joy and happiness to be had with the sufferer who might go into remission at any time and have extended periods with little or no signs or symptoms of the disease.

    I hope that this discovery leads to more research into the causes and possible cures of MS so that many, many others do not have to suffer the debilitating conditions that often result from it. On the positive side, some people live and cope with some forms of MS and live full lives. Unfortunately, my wife was not one of those people.

    --
    We are always looking for new staff in different areas - please volunteer if you have some spare time and wish to help
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by cmdrklarg on Monday January 17, @07:30PM

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @07:30PM (#1213451)

      I am sorry for your loss, janrinok. Thank you for sharing with us your difficult story.

      --
      Answer now is don't give in; aim for a new tomorrow.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Monday January 17, @08:07PM (1 child)

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Monday January 17, @08:07PM (#1213458)

      I am sorry for your loss. I can't imagine losing my wife.

      Let's hope that now that we have a target, and mRNA vaccine technology, we can learn to prevent most cases.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by janrinok on Monday January 17, @08:25PM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 17, @08:25PM (#1213463) Journal

        I can't imagine losing my wife.

        Neither could I - although I knew it was likely after she started to seriously deteriorate around 2018-19. However, I feel that this is now going off-topic so I will simply thank all those who have offered me their condolences, both on here, IRC and elsewhere. my grateful thanks.

        --
        We are always looking for new staff in different areas - please volunteer if you have some spare time and wish to help
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MostCynical on Wednesday January 19, @03:45AM

      by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday January 19, @03:45AM (#1213776) Journal

      I have lost a close friend to MS - he lasted just on 20 years from diagnosis, and had relapsing-remitting - it is truly the most cruel form of torture for all, when you know they are completely aware of what is happening, but cannot participate, at all, (and, at the end, they can't even swallow...)

      I know three others with recent (10 year) diagnoses - I am not looking forward to watching their inevitable decline.

      It is very sad.

      *******************

      For all those who champion diet controlling MS - note that it has only 'worked' with relapsing-remitting, and many people with that form of the disease may go months, years, or even decades before reappearing.. so they may just be in a prolonged 'remit' phase (clinical trials are few and far between...)

       

      --
      "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Thursday January 20, @04:01PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Thursday January 20, @04:01PM (#1214196) Journal

      I'm sorry for your loss, janrinok. Peace and healing for you and your family.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:34AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:34AM (#1213360)

    How did such an easily discovered correlation from patient medical histories get missed for 40+ years?

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by shrewdsheep on Monday January 17, @01:09PM

      by shrewdsheep (5215) on Monday January 17, @01:09PM (#1213378)

      Indeed. Color me skeptical. I have been related to MS research some 20 yrs ago, when the most compelling evidence for a virus infection was that disease risk depends on where you live in your childhood and teens (Africa vs. Europe). EBV had been on the list, BTW (IIRC). The claim that EBV in early adulthood seems causal is doubtful to me as it contradicts well established evidence. Current thinking in autoimmune disease development seems to indicate that the cells own cytokine reaction following virus infection might be the essential trigger for disease, which would imply the EBV (as a species) per se would not be causel, only the fact of a virus infection (sorry no refs). It is thinkable that EBV re-infections might be such a strong trigger (TLDR).

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:49PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @06:49PM (#1213440)

    Someone should run a general correlation study to see if anything else turns up.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @01:14AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 19, @01:14AM (#1213740)

      The problem with data dredging is that your chances of finding a significant association from chance alone drastically increases the more correlations you run on the same data set. Without a preexisting reason or post hoc correction, it can be almost impossible to tell them apart from the real ones.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @08:39PM (#1213466)

    Not autoimmune disease. Immune system just doing it's job. Viruses and other contams are getting into the brain through people's shitty BBB due to their poor diet and gut bacteria and the immune system is attacking the invaders with collateral damage of myelin sheathing. Fix your diet and take lion's mane to grow myelin sheathing and turkey tail to help your gut bacteria. You probably need to exercise to keep various processes working properly too. Fasting would probably help fix broken DNA causing problems.

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