Epstein-Barr virus may increase MS risk

PAST infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may increase a person's risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) if they have certain genetic variations, Australian research shows.

In a case-control study, researchers led by a team from the Australian National University (ANU) found the presence of EBV antibodies and a history of infectious mononucleosis was related to an increased risk of demyelinating disease, an association consistent with other, previous studies.

In addition, the researchers showed specific genetic mutations (HLA-DR15 or HLA-A genotype) increased the risk of a first demyelinating event about 20-fold.

"This work is really encouraging, as it starts to bring together the different risk factors that we know are involved in MS," lead author Associate Professor Robyn Lucas said.

"It points us in the right director for further research to prevent and cure MS."

No evidence was found that a current EBV DNA

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