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A team of researchers has determined that a virus is responsible for triggering multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that often causes disability.

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Its about Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which has been linked to MS for years. Now, researchers conclude that to develop multiple sclerosis it is necessary condition to have had a previous infection caused by this pathogen.

“It has long been postulated that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection triggers multiple sclerosis”they say William H. Robinson y Lawrence Steinman in a opinion piece spread in the magazine Science, where they also publish their research article.

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The work is based on the analysis of data from more than 10 million American soldiers. They were followed for 20 years. More than 800 were diagnosed with MS. The data allow researchers to link, for the first time, the Epstein-Barr virus – a herpevirus that causes acute infectious mononucleosis, also known as ‘the kissing disease’ – with this evil that has no cure.

The authors clarify that their findings do not mean that all people who had an infection with this virus will have multiple sclerosis, but rather that -in those in whom the disease manifested itself- the virus had an interaction with their immune system previously and was key to triggering the disease. illness.

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According to the study, the risk of developing sclerosis increased 32 times after Epstein-Barr virus infection. “It is the main trigger for MS”, they assure.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) that can cause disability ”, explains Mayo Clinic.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that, worldwide, adds more than 2.8 million diagnosed patients, that is, one in every 3,000 people lives with this pathology. Even in the countries with the highest prevalence, this figure can reach up to one case for every 300 people. In Peru, the Ministry of Health (Minsa) warns that seven out of every 100,000 Peruvians suffer from this disease.

Dr. Natalia Gómez, medical manager of Multiple Sclerosis at Sanofi, comments that this disease is characterized by being a chronic inflammatory disease of the most prevalent of the central nervous system, it occurs mainly in patients between 20 and 40 years of age and is more frequent in women than in men.

The specialist explains that MS is a neurological condition characterized by inflammation and damage to the tissue that covers neurons (myelin). When it gets damaged, a neuronal loss is generated that leads to physical and cognitive deterioration.

According to Dr. Gómez, the symptoms vary greatly in each person, however, they highlight the physical and cognitive fatigue in severe degrees, vision problems, lack of balance, coordination, sensitivity, pain, bladder and bowel problems, sexuality, speech and emotional changes.

It is important to mention that there are four phenotypes of multiple sclerosis: isolated clinical syndrome, primary progressive, secondary progressive, and relapsing-remitting syndrome. The latter is the most common form of the disease, representing approximately 85% of cases. It is characterized by the presence of well-defined attacks or episodes of new or more acute neurological symptoms (known as relapses or exacerbations) that can last several days or weeks5.

Because various tests are needed and the symptoms can be confused with other pathologies, their detection can take several years. “It is essential to have access to a timely diagnosis, pertinent and comprehensive treatments, expert medical professionals, as well as neurologists specializing in demyelinating diseases, which will contribute to slow the progression of the condition, offering patients a better quality of life “, emphasizes Gomez.

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