This is a very hopeful discovery. Last January, US researchers established a link between multiple sclerosis and the Epstein-Barr virus. A scientific breakthrough that could eventually lead to a better response to this disease, multiple sclerosis specialists assure.
Les traitements, qui visent à bloquer l’inflammation, ont « beaucoup avancé ces dix dernières années », et le suivi des patients est « plus individualisé », explique le neurologue Jean Pelletier, de la fondation française à la recherca la recherche la recherche Multiple Sclerosis). It is believed that new developments could emerge from the discovery made in January.
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). It causes a defect in the immune system that attacks myelin, which is the protective covering of nerve fibers.
Most often, it causes inflammatory irritations that are interspersed with remission phases. The disease varies greatly from patient to patient but can lead to complications, and is one of the common causes of disability in young people.
It is estimated that more than 2.8 million people suffer from this autoimmune disease worldwide, including about 110,000 people in France. Children and adolescents still represent a minority of cases, but the disease may have started long before it was diagnosed.
The discovery of a link to the Epstein-Barr virus already indicates that most cases of multiple sclerosis can be prevented by stopping infection with this pathogen. This virus infects 95% of adults and is a cause of other diseases such as mononucleosis. But not all sufferers develop multiple sclerosis.
In addition to “a better understanding of what may be involved in this multifactorial disease,” the study suggests “we can prevent multiple sclerosis if we vaccinate children against Epstein-Barr, knowing that we don’t have a vaccine for the moment,” according to Professor Pelletier.
“The famous Epstein-Barr virus, once infected, is hidden in our bodies in B lymphocytes, which are themselves involved in the inflammatory reaction associated with multiple sclerosis. This could explain in particular that some therapies that target B lymphocytes, monoclonal antibodies, are very effective against multiple sclerosis, he says.