This is a very hopeful discovery. Last January, U.S. researchers found a link between multiple sclerosis and the Epstein-Barr virus. A scientific breakthrough that could ultimately lead to a better response to the disease is underlined by multiple sclerosis specialists.
Treatment to block inflammation has “progressed significantly over the last ten years” and patient follow-up has been “more individualized,” explains neurologist Jean Pelletier of the Arsep Foundation in France. . And he believes new breakthroughs could emerge from the January discovery.
Multiple sclerosis, what is it?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It disrupts the immune system, which attacks myelin, the protective sheath of nerve fibers.
It most often causes inflammatory flares interspersed with resting phases. The disease varies greatly from patient to patient, but can lead to consequences and is one of the common causes of disability in young adults.
It is estimated that more than 2.8 million people worldwide are affected by this autoimmune disease, including about 110,000 people in France. Children and adolescents remain a minority, but the disease may begin long before it can be diagnosed.
Indeed, the discovery of an association with the Epstein-Barr virus suggests that most cases of multiple sclerosis could be prevented by stopping the infection with this pathogen. The virus affects 95% of adults and is the cause of other diseases, such as mononucleosis. But not everyone infected has multiple sclerosis.
In addition to “a better understanding of what may be involved in this multifactorial disease,” the study “suggests that we could prevent multiple sclerosis if we vaccinated children against Epstein-Barr, knowing that we do not have a vaccine against the moment,” according to Professor Pelletier.
“This famous Epstein-Barr virus, once infected, is hidden in our body by B cells that are themselves involved in the inflammatory response associated with multiple sclerosis. This could explain in particular that some treatments targeting B cells, monoclonal antibodies, are extremely effective against multiple sclerosis, ”he says.