Monday, November 24, 2008

The Epstein-Barr Virus and the MS Immune System

On Friday, my producer at The Health Central Network asked me to write something in response to news articles coming out of Australia regarding the Epstein-Barr virus, it's connection to MS, and the development of a vaccine.

So over the weekend I've been - reading, studying, reading some more, writing a little, going back to read again to make sure I understand, writing.........

Below is a brief excerpt of the post which went live this morning. For the full version, click the title below, read, and follow the links to the correlating studies, abstracts, and news reports. This is actually some very interesting research.

"The Kissing Disease" and Multiple Sclerosis: Is there hope for a vaccine?

As reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, Vaccine Hope in MS Link to Virus, the connection between the Epstein-Barr virus and the onset of MS, when combined with the development of an effective vaccine against EBV, may give hope to future generations of persons having a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Lead researcher at University of Queensland, Michael Pender, has said that once the glandular fever vaccine is fully tested, it could be included in Australia's childhood vaccine program for people who had a diagnosed relative (a higher risk factor).

However, Robert Booy, a professor in pediatrics with the National Centre for Immunization Research at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, said that until scientists could establish the exact cause of MS, it was impossible to ensure a vaccine did not contain proteins which could trigger multiple sclerosis.


  1. My neuro promised a vaccine in 2003...always a but.

  2. Even before I was first diagnosed (January, 1998) the EB virus was suspect. I had mono in January 1981, age 17. What's worse is that I didn't get it from kissing anyone, either.


  3. Thanks for sharing. This is the first I have heard about this.

  4. I had mono at the age of 33. Maybe it contributed to my MS. I've always thought so.

  5. I've never been tested for EBV (at least that I know of) and I've never developed mono (at least that I know of). It's possible that I was one of those folks exposed as a young children.

    @Diane - Yeah, I've read more and more about previous promises for a vaccine. Interestingly, the Tovaxin trial (which is potentially a vaccine of sorts) has been closed down due to funding.

    @Shauna - The references to EBV and MS do go back pretty far. When I was called to look into this "great promising good news" my first response was "yeah, they've been studying the connection for a while. I'll look to see what's new about this."

    So sorry that you didn't get to have a little fun before developing mono.

    @Denver - You're welcome.

    @Chris - How long between the time you had mono at 33 and the time you developed MS?

  6. Also, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) one of the big drug companies has licensed a drug which is in trials as a vaccine against Epstein-Barr Virus.

    The ClinicalTrials listing for Phase 2 is here and a link to the published results is at the bottom.

    Maybe with one of the big guys interested, there might actually be a vaccine someday soon. Of course, they are not studying it specifically for MS, but EBV is known to cause some lymphomas and cancer.

    Also, I've seen studies published almost 20 years ago which were working to identify the specific details about the virus.

  7. Thank you for keeping me up to date on what is going on in the MS Research world. Some of it is very hopeful indeed.

    p.s. stop by my blog to accept an award I'm bestowing on you! :)

  8. 2 rounds of EBV - this was before they made us use separate water bottles with team sports! 1x @ 14 and 1x @ 16. I read a bunch of research about the connection when I was first diagnosed and my neuro asked about any past diagnosis of EBV. He's a firm believer and follower of the link... Great article Lisa! Thanks again for sharing the good info!

  9. Wouldn't a vaccine be too late for us since we already have MS? Unless it is like getting say Rabies shots where you can get it after you may have been say bitten by a bat (this actually happened to my friend).

    Either way - good info. Thanks! I've posted more details and pics of my recent Jamaica trip, stop by and take a look! :)

  10. Happy Thanksgiving, Carnival Ringleader!


  11. Thanks for keeping us updated Lisa. And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a vaccine. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!! :)

  12. I have both a systemic infection from a ruptured appendix AND Mono as a kid...I've always thought one or both really messed up my immune system! Of course as a kid and until my mid 20's, if I got sick, I was usually acutely ill and hospitalized (with both illnesses).

    Linda D. in Seattle

  13. I had mono as a teen and just thought it was coincidence that I was diagnosed with MS in my 20's 'til my mom said she felt something was quite right after after the mono. Moms notice everything

  14. I was diagnosed with EBV 12 years ago and it is suspected that I had had it for years before that. I am now 26 years old and have been noticing certain things that have been related to MS. Needless to say I am very concerned. I have known about the connection between EBV and MS since I was diagnosed. One of the many doctors I had seen was convinced I had MS. It had turned out, then, I did not. I am extremely concerned and if anyone can offer anything, please feel free.