Really interesting New Scientist report

Epstein Barr virus infection strongly implicated as a necessary cause of subsequent MS developing (more than 90% of population already infected but only tiny fraction go on to develop MS as other co-factor(s) as yet not identified are important).


Some links:

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I read this article yesterday and I was quite intrigued by it. When I was diagnosed with RRMS 6 years ago there was a mention of a possible link between them.
I had glandular fever at 15 and had 6 months off school as a result of it. I remember back that it was horrendous and it left me feeling cold / flu like every other week through my time at college. I bet this lasted 5 or 6 years over all and the fatigue at the time was a killer.
I hope they can use this to finally find a cure for generations to come

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Good links there, including from Harvard TH Chan who ran the study. Worth reading Prof G’s take on it too:


I am intrigued by the bit describing the finding that blood neurofilament light chain levels (a marker of neurodegeneration taking place) were seen to have increased in the blood of the subjects of the study who became infected with EBV and then went on to develop MS, prior to their showing symptoms. Wondering if detecting this could make the diagnosis quicker and more certain, or is it perhaps already part of the Lumbar puncture test?

i never knew i had EBV. in 2012 i had a ton of blood tests at breakspeare clinic to see what else i couold have if not MS. one of the tests showed clearly >95 for a latent no reactive titer for EBV (or words similar) which meant i had it at one point in my life but it was now showing reactive to something… the doctor said it would indicate my auto immune was being stirred up by something.

that was it my GP wasnt interesed. I really have no idea when i would have had EBV. they also found the other virus cytomegalovirus no idea lol.

Connection with EBV and MS has been ongoing years now.

I found news and particularly Prof Gs comments on it very interesting too.

So I replied to him. I had been told in 1997 - a few months after 1st MS symptoms that I was EBV negative. So I asked the Prof. He told me that the test I’d had (Viral Capsid Antigen IgM) wasn’t sensitive enough. It would have only shown up current infection. The test for the antibodies is IgG against VCA and EBNA1.
So i thought about asking for a new EBV test but ultimately reckon I may as well just accept that like most of the population, I’m probably positive.

So the question remains, what else is needed to switch MS on? There’s the known things like familial propensity to auto-immune disease. Plus gender (more females than males), age at start of symptoms (bang on age 30 for me). Plus geography (mostly Northern hemisphere), lack of vitamin D, and ?, ?, ?…

The trouble is for the individual, knowing what caused my MS is kind of irrelevant. I’ve still got it. My MS has its 25 year birthday this month. Hip hip hooray!!!


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Like you, I also had Glandular fever, though I was 19 and at Uni. Had to be careful for next few years as if I pushed too hard, got too exhausted or took liberties with sleep, I’d have a real off day and couldn’t get going / go to work etc. Particularly didn’t want it to get re-established. Even back then (80’s), it seemed to be known that it never truly left your system.

Sadly, this new disclosure won’t help any of us who have already contracted MS but may eradicate it for future generations. In a way, this revelation may actually do us a disservice: a “cure” at source might soften enthusiasm for research into a cure for those of us who already have it, since we are a finite and dwindling number - better to divert funds into the vaccine programme?

yeh i get you.
I had no idea when i had EBV lol. but being forces brat and forces wife I often wonder if the amount of vaccines i had over the years kicked something off. Although my worse symptoms started after my father died in 1997. In 1999 i started to get worse UTI and issues…

I think you’ve made a really salient point. EBV is of little value to those of us diagnosed for years, but might be really useful for prevention in the future. If a vaccine for EBV could protect those people at risk then that’s got to be worth searching for. I’m sure none of us would wish MS on future generations.

I do wonder about the kids diagnosed with MS though. If it generally takes about 10 years post EBV virus to develop MS, I hope the researchers are testing the teenagers and younger who are diagnosed.


Take the point about funding priorities but knowing that the EBV virus hibernates in its latent state in the ‘memory B cells’ to evade the immune system does give researchers an important area to focus on in searching for a cure or treatment. If these infected cells can be triggered to reveal themselves to the immune system for example. The immune system can already naturally learn to recognise a range of virally infected cells which might explain why virtually everybody with EBV does not go on to develop MS. This problem also sounds similar to the problem of HIV infection which is now fully contained by anti-viral drugs circulating in the blood eventhough the virus is not eradicated from its host cells.

Find this so interesting. I had really severe GF in my late teens and had to spend 3 days in hospital with it getting various things through IV to get it under control. It changed me forever in that I now get sickness from things like travelling which I never did before. Also had terrible winter coughs for the few years following that would linger for ages. Since then I’ve had less colds than I can count on one hand. Really weird how it obviously has a profound impact on the immune system.

I read that there is still some hope for those of us already diagnosed as if there is a vaccine against EBV it may still help by training our immune systems to target the virus still in us and keep it in check, and this could help prevent big flare ups of immune system activity.

A lot of ifs and buts but promising stuff. Would love a vaccine to be developed so I could protect my children. That would be utterly amazing :pray::pray::pray:

This paper and another seminal paper have been discussed by a group of virologists on TWIV (This week in Virology) today. Discussion begins at approx 35 minutes in, and continues to 1 hour 33 minutes. Fascinating. I’ve been listening to many episodes of TWIV so have some understanding of the mechanisms they are talking about, but it isn’t an easy listen as is pretty technical.

They say the paper concerning EBV is compelling. It stands up to their scrutiny. The second paper they discuss goes into some of the mechanisms of what is going wrong in MS. Brianne does a bit of a summary of the second paper at 1hr 21’

Looks as if MS comes down to a combination of getting EBV, genetics and then pure chance.

This is the link to the abstract of the other paper:

More from Prof G on BBC Radio yesterday.

Inside Health - Multiple sclerosis and the Epstein Barr virus - BBC Sounds